Following last night’s announcement, England will once again go into a National Lockdown from tomorrow (although we are being asked to observe lockdown guidance from today) in response to the continued rise in Covid-19 case numbers and the heightened risk of patient numbers overwhelming NHS capacity.
We have pulled together the relevant aspects for climbers and hill walkers of the government’s latest guidance to make it easier to understand and interpret. This is based on the published guidance rather than the legislation (as there are differences between the two), but the guidance is clear in its intention, which could be summarised as: stay at home wherever possible.
Climbing and walking appears to be acceptable as a form of exercise under current guidance, but only if it can be done within your local area (now better defined, see below). However, it is worth stressing once again the immense pressure the NHS is currently under and highlighting the need for everyone to dial back their aspirations to objectives well within their abilities.
Whilst the new national lockdown will be disappointing news for all, it is hoped that the new guidance together with the rapid roll out of the vaccination programme will allow restrictions to be lifted again in due course once case numbers start to fall.
What is the new guidance for lockdown in England?
You must not leave or be outside of your home except where you have a ‘reasonable excuse’ – this includes exercise, but full details can be found in the National Lockdown Guidance.
You can only leave your home to exercise, and not for the purpose of recreation or leisure (e.g. a picnic or a social meeting).
You may exercise in a public outdoor place on your own, with one other person, or with your household or support bubble.
Public outdoor places relevant to climbing and walking include parks, beaches, countryside accessible to the public and forests.
Outdoor exercise should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area, defined as “the village, town, or part of the city where you live”.
Stay 2 metres apart from anyone not in your household. Where this isn’t possible, maintain 1m+ distancing and additional precautions should be taken such as wearing facemasks.
You cannot leave your home or the place where you are living for holidays or overnight stays unless you have a reasonable excuse for doing so. This means that holidays in the UK and abroad are not allowed.
Staying in a second home or caravan, if that is not your primary residence, is also not allowed. The guidance also prohibits staying with anyone who you don’t live with unless they’re in your support bubble.
Climbing walls and indoor leisure facilities will remain closed.
You can only travel internationally – or within the UK – where you first have a legally permitted reason to leave home. In addition, you should consider the public health advice in the country you are visiting. UK residents currently abroad do not need to return home immediately. However, you should check with your airline or travel operator on arrangements for returning.
The police can take action against you if you leave home without a ‘reasonable excuse’ or break other rules. Fixed Penalty Notices can be issued starting at £200 for the first offence, doubling for further offences up to a maximum of £6,400.
Various media sources are reporting that the date for review of the current lockdown will likely be Monday 15 February, but this has yet to be confirmed.
What is the situation in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland?
Wales has been in national lockdown since 18 December and the rules are slightly different for those living in Wales – in particular exercise can only take place from your front door, with no travel allowed. Cross border travel in either direction is not allowed and English visitors have reportedly been stopped and fined or issued court summons by the police on numerous occasions over the last week. Click here for full details of the Welsh lockdown.
For full details of the current Covid-19 rules elsewhere in the UK, click here for Scotland and here for Northern Ireland.
More FAQs about the BMC and Covid-19
🌳 Can I go climbing / hill walking in England? Here's what you can and can't do in the 3rd Lockdown (January 2021)
🌳 What's the situation for climbing and hill walking in Wales? Read our full January update
😷 When and will the walls reopen? In England and Wales they're now closed for the National Lockdown. Read our walls article
✈️ I have a travel insurance question! Here's the FAQs
🏡 Do you have any advice for clubs and huts? Check out our latest clubs, meets and huts update
🛒 Is the BMC shop open? Yes - it is and BMC members get 10% off!
We want to say thanks to every BMC member supporting 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're making through with your support.
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