This guidance sets out the key principles of enjoying the benefits of being outside, while protecting yourself and others from coronavirus.
The risk of the coronavirus being passed on to others outdoors is considered to be low as long as people maintain social distancing.
In England you can leave your home to exercise and spend time outdoors for recreation.
When travelling to outdoor spaces, it is important that people respect the rules in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Do not travel to different parts of the UK where it would be inconsistent with guidance or regulations issued by the relevant devolved administration.
In England, you can now:
- spend time outdoors, including exercise, alone, with your household, or with one person who is not in your household as long as you stay two metres apart
- exercise more than once a day
- take part in other outdoor sports and activities, including fishing – on your own, with your household, or with one other person while adhering to social distancing rules
- drive to outdoor open spaces, including beaches and beauty spots, irrespective of distance – you should travel in a private vehicle, alone or with members of your own household
- visit gardens and land maintained for public use as an alternative open space to spend time outdoors, although buildings and amenities such as cafes will remain closed and access may be limited to members or those with tickets to ensure social distancing. You should check ahead and follow social distancing guidelines
- go swimming in either lakes or the sea as part of daily exercise provided that social distancing guidelines are observed – you cannot use public indoor and outdoor pools
- all forms of water sports practiced on open waterways, including sailing, windsurfing, canoeing, rowing, kayaking, surfing, paddle-boarding and the use of privately-owned motorised craft (in line with the guidance issued by the relevant navigation authority) are allowed – you can continue to use towpaths for walking, running and cycling, being mindful of other users and people living in boats along the water
There are no restrictions on how far you can travel to get to the countryside. However you should not stay overnight. Campsites and caravan parks are closed and you cannot visit a holiday or second 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
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 local authorities and site management have put in place to help ensure social distancing.
Before travelling, you should check if facilities, such as car parks, are open to visitors.
When in the countryside, follow the Countryside Code. You can do this by:
- leaving no trace of your visit and taking all of your litter home
- not using barbecues as they risk causing wildfires
- keeping dogs under effective control and on a lead when you are around farm animals – read further guidance for pet owners
- leaving gates as you find them and following instructions on signs
- keeping to footpaths and following signs where they suggest alternative routes
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.
Advice to land managers and landowners
You will need to take account of Working safely during COVID-19 in construction and other outdoor work.
You can also draw on the government’s guidance for Safer Public Places during Coronavirus. We recognise however that some of it is more relevant for urban areas and that different approaches may sometimes be required when managing access to land in the countryside.
It may not be practical to clean regularly all gates and stiles. You can display signs at access points reminding the public of the need to take hygiene precautions and wash hands regularly. Land managers may also wish to consider tying gates open if it is safe to do so, so that walkers do not need to touch the gate.
Landowners do not have the legal right to block or obstruct public rights of way or open access land. However, in circumstances where large numbers of people are using such routes, landowners may consider the following measures:
- temporarily displaying polite notices that encourage users to respect local residents and workers by following social distancing guidelines and consider using alternative routes that do not pass through gardens, farmyards or schools
- offering an alternative route around gardens and farmyards where it is safe to do so (you must gain permission from relevant landowners and make sure the route is safe for users and livestock) provided that the original right of way is maintained
- where footpaths are narrow and it is difficult as a result to abide by social distancing guidelines you may wish to consider putting up signage warning people
Please see the latest government guidance on social distancing. The Cabinet Office has also published the following: Coronavirus outbreak FAQs: what you can and can’t do.
Please be aware that if you are experiencing symptoms of coronavirus illness (COVID-19) or at risk of severe illness if you catch coronavirus, then you should stay at home. See the latest guidance from Public Health England.