New government green space advice on COVID-19 By candy1812 AdobeStock_315344877

Government guidance on using green spaces and protecting yourself and others

The government has published new guidance setting out the key principles of enjoying the benefits of being outside, while protecting yourself and others from coronavirus (COVID-19).

It said that 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.

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.
  • You should check first if facilities, such as car parks, are open to receive visitors and, when in the countryside, continue to follow the Countryside Code by respecting the local community and protecting the natural environment
  • 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

The advice remains that everybody should continue to avoid public transport other than for essential journeys. People should only make these journeys by cycling, walking or driving in a private vehicle.

You cannot stay overnight in a holiday or second home

There are no restrictions on how far you can travel to get to the countryside. But it remains the case that you cannot gather with more than one member of another household for example to play sports.

You also cannot:

  • Go on holiday
  • Visit and stay overnight at a holiday home or second home
  • Visit the homes of friends and family, unless it’s to help a vulnerable person, for medical reasons, or to take a child to another household with whom parental responsibilities are shared

More stringent enforcement measures for non-compliance with the new rules have also come into effect.

Fines have been increased, and will now start at £100, which will be lowered to £50 if paid within 14 days. This will double on each further repeat offence up to £3,200.

The government added that the police will use their common sense, discretion and experience when people are not following the guidelines. This means they will engage, explain, encourage and only as a last resort consider enforcement by way of fixed penalty notice.

To stay safe, you must take hygiene precautions when you are outside, and wash your hands as soon as you are back indoors. Remember to keep at least two metres apart from anyone outside your household at all times.

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.

The government has also published Safer Public Places during Coronavirus in Urban Centres and Green Space which sets out how high streets and areas around transport hubs and parks can be managed and operated safely, giving people confidence to return to public spaces.