Following the latest government announcements, some changes are due to be made to lockdown from Monday 1st June. The changes depend on which country you're based in. The BMC access team take a look at what these mean for climbers and hill walkers.
Following last night’s announcement from the Prime Minister, groups of up to six people will be able to meet outdoors from Monday 1st June providing 2m social distancing from those outside your household can be maintained. Importantly, this doesn’t mean that the changes are in place for the weekend of 30th May – they will only come into effect from Monday.
We should stress, however, that this is based only on the announcement made last night (28th May) as the legislation and official government guidance hasn’t been made available as yet, so once this is published, our advice may need to change.
Social responsibility remains as an important overall principle in whatever you are doing – the current situation requires us all to carefully consider our actions and minimise our impact on other users, our climbing and hill walking community and wider society. It is up to the individual to think for themselves and consider others when planning trips and engaging in any activities outdoors.
Beyond the easing of lockdown to allow groups of up to 6 people to meet outdoors, our general advice remains the same with social distancing and hand hygiene remaining crucial in preventing transmission:
Keep 2m apart from anyone outside of your household.
Hand hygiene is crucial, but washing hands properly is impractical in the outdoors. Carry and use hand sanitiser after any contact with surfaces or shared equipment.
Current World Health Organisation advice on which hand sanitisers kill the Covid-19 virus is that they should contain 80% alcohol to be effective.
Avoid popular venues, pinch points and routes which force you close to others. Car park status pages have been launched in the Peak District and Lake District to help visitors avoid crowded areas.
Whatever you are doing, scale back your ambitions and be fully confident of your physical and technical ability for any objective you embark upon.
Mountain Rescue capability is hugely reduced/diminished and any response is likely to take longer and with reduced resources compared to normal, not to mention increasing risk of transmission between casualties and team members.
Updated government guidance on accessing green spaces safely has now been issued and is worth reading and understanding.
We have received enquiries about whether the changes in England extend to instructors re-starting outdoor sessions with groups of 6 or less people. As before when 1-2-1 coaching was confirmed as being allowed, an enquiry has been made to Sport England overnight by the National Mountain Training organisations about the coming changes.
At this stage a response hasn’t been received, so it isn’t clear whether the changes on 1st June will apply to instructed groups. As and when more information becomes available we will update our advice but until then, Mountain Training encourages instructors to carefully consider their particular situation and apply their Covid-19 decision making framework.
In press statement this morning, Mark Drakeford, the First Minister of Wales has stated that as of Monday June 1st, individuals will be allowed, to meet outdoors for social purpose with members of one other household. The 2m social distancing, which is legally enforceable in Wales will remain. He also stated that from Monday, people will be allowed to travel to meet others for social purposes, which we assume also allows travel to meet to exercise.
The current regulations and guidance (that remain fully in force until Monday June 1st) currently do allow people in Wales to leave their homes for exercise, “the form of which is not specified, but should not pose a significant risk, and that is undertaken local to the place where that person is living”.
The BMC and other recreation bodies take this to mean that you can go climbing, hill-walking or bouldering, alone or with members of your own household as long as it's local to your home. Travel to Wales from England and any travel of “significant distance” within Wales for the purpose exercise are still not permitted under the Welsh regulations and Police forces are still strongly enforcing this law. “Local Travel” is not defined but it appears to be up to the discretion of police officers.
The legal closures of so-called honeypot areas, such as the Snowdon massif, the Glyderau, significant parts of the Brecon Beacons National Park and most of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path remain in place for everyone and it is still an offence to be within those areas.
The changes we are expecting to come into force in Wales on Monday, will specify that “local” travel should mainly be within 5 miles of your home but that could vary depending on local circumstances (e.g. someone living in very remote area may need to travel more than 5 miles simply to get to the nearest village, let alone to socialise with family and friends).
A more comprehensive article explaining the amended regulations and supporting guidance in Wales will be produced on Monday June 1st to explain what these changes mean to climbers and hill-walkers in Wales.
Scotland & Northern Ireland
Changes are also being made in the other home nations but these have their own representative bodies. Please refer to Mountaineering Scotland and Mountaineering Ireland for details on the changes in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
More FAQs about the BMC and Covid-19
🌳 Can I start climbing / hillwalking? Yes, but be cautious in your actions, respectful of local communities and vigilant in avoiding transmitting the virus. Read our latest advice for July here and for the general return to climbing here
🌳 What's the situation in Wales? Read the full October update here
😷 When and how will the walls reopen? In England it's July 25th Read the ABC's advice for walls and watch their live update here
✈️ Can I now travel abroad again? Get the latest answers to going abroad with travel restrictions now easing
🛒 Is the BMC shop open? Yes - we officially reopened at the start of July!
🏡 Do you have any advice for clubs and huts? The latest club huts update and all you need to know
📜 Will the BMC keep running smoothly? Read more or watch our weekly live updates from our CEO
🚗 What have the BMC access team been doing during this time? Read on
As the climbing walls, crags and mountains start to open, we wanted to say thanks to every BMC member who supported us through the Coronavirus crisis.
From weekly Facebook Lives and GB Climbing home training videos, to our access team working to re-open the crags and fight for your mountain access, we couldn’t have made it without you.
If you liked what we did, then tell your friends about us: www.thebmc.co.uk/join