Covid-19 and Countryside Sites

Public rights of way, country parks and trails in the countryside and urban fringe provide an opportunity for people to take exercise and get some fresh air in these difficult times. The government reports that the risk of the coronavirus being passed on to others from people using outdoor green spaces, paths and trails is considered to be very low as long as people follow the government’s instructions to maintain social distancing.

But many more people than normal are visiting the countryside to use footpaths and country parks. Visitors to the countryside should be especially mindful of all those who live and work in the countryside who may be feeling concerned and vulnerable because of the Corona Virus.

National lockdown: stay at home

You must stay at home. This is the single most important action we can all take to protect the NHS and save lives.You must not leave your home unless necessary. Find out what you can and cannot do.

When visiting countryside sites, as part of your daily exercise, do follow the national government advice on accessing green spaces safely:

  • follow the government guidance on social distancing. Natural England have asked users to, if possible, try to avoid using footpaths etc. that may take you through a farmstead or other rural business where social distancing may be difficult.
  • be sensible, courteous and considerate when using public rights of way at this time, as at all times. Respect other people and protect the natural environment. Remember your actions can affect people’s lives and livelihoods. Take the time to read signage. Respect the measures that may have been put in place.
  • follow the Countryside Code: leave gates as you find them and keep dogs under close control at all times - Defra advise that you should keep your dog on a lead near livestock and away from other people/dogs, Defra have posted a video containing advice for users. Leave no trace of your visit and take all of your litter home. Do not use barbecues as they risk causing wildfires. Wildlife may have moved into areas where it hasn’t previously been found, including nesting birds. Land managers may have taken action to provide extra protection of wildlife. Be vigilant and comply with these protective measures to ensure you do not disrupt the local wildlife.
  • when using gates and stiles be mindful that other people pass through these and that landowners may need to use them multiple times a day. Wash your hands and or sanitise as soon as possible after touching shared surfaces.
  • keep to the definitive line of the path or use an alternative route if provided by the landowner.
  • before travelling, you should check if facilities, such as car parks and toilets, are open to visitors. Park considerately.
  • the government has published advice on ‘Staying Safe Outside Your Home’. To stay safe, you must:
    • take hygiene precautions when you are outside
    • wash your hands as soon as you are back indoors
    • keep at least two metres apart from anyone outside your household at all times
    • take hand sanitiser with you when you set off in case there are no handwashing facilities