On Saturday, the Prime Minister announced plans for a second lockdown in England from 5 November. Lockdown 2 is likely to be different in a number of ways to the initial lockdown we saw in March, but how is it expected to affect climbers and walkers? Our access team take a look.
Before we delve into the detail, it’s worth highlighting that the key tactics that we all need to use haven’t changed: social distancing (2m where possible or 1m with extra precautions in place such as wearing a mask), using masks in indoor public places (including public transport) and properly washing your hands are all still crucial.
This article is based on current government guidance rather than legislation (which hasn’t been released yet) and will be updated as more information becomes available.
Can I still go climbing and walking?
Yes, you can. From 5 November, you can only leave your home for specific purposes. One of these is to exercise outdoors or visit an outdoor public place (which specifically includes countryside), with members of your household, support bubble or one person from another household.
As with the first lockdown, consider your choice of venue, as there is potential for increased numbers with indoor options removed. Whilst the likelihood of transmission outdoors is very low, large numbers of people in honeypot locations could result in further general access issues as seen earlier in the year: bad parking, sanitation, litter and drawing attention to sites where formal access has not been agreed. As always, have an alternative plan in case your destination is too busy and be considerate in your actions to make sure we don’t see further access losses.
Can I travel to go climbing or walking?
Current guidance ahead of the lockdown is that it will be OK to travel to exercise if you need to make a short journey to do so. The definition of ‘short’ is open to interpretation, of course, but the guidance also advises avoiding travel in or out of your local area so it seems the intention is to allow exercise near to where you live but not further afield. We’re trying to get further clarification on this, but it does mean that at least local parking is legitimate. Walking and cycling as a means of transport is also encouraged where possible in preference to public transport to avoid the risk of transmission.
However, do not travel if:
you are experiencing any coronavirus symptoms
you are self-isolating as a result of coronavirus symptoms
you are sharing a household or support bubble with somebody with symptoms
you have been told to self-isolate after being contacted by NHS Test and Trace
Can I stay overnight away from home?
All overnight stays and holidays away from your primary residence will not be allowed. This will include camping, staying in vans (if not your primary residence), huts, self-catering, hotels and holidays abroad and in the UK. Exemptions apply if you need to stay away from home for work, education or other legally permitted reasons.
Can I travel from England to Wales, Scotland or further afield?
The guidance is clear that for English residents, travel outside of England is not allowed other than for very specific purposes (i.e. your work requires it or a few other very specific circumstances).
Can I travel from Wales, Scotland or further afield to England?
Travel from Wales to England is currently not allowed whilst Wales is locked down and this looks likely to continue once the lockdown is lifted on 9 November. This is all dependant on the details of legislation, which is yet to be released by Welsh government, so it may change as more information becomes available. In Scotland, unnecessary travel to or from the rest of the UK is currently advised against.
Anyone travelling into England from outside the UK should check the travel corridor lists to see if they need to isolate for 14 days on arrival. British nationals currently abroad do not need to return home immediately. Currently you need to fill in a Passenger Locator Form within 48 hours of your return, however you should check with your airline or travel operator on any other arrangements for returning.
Will indoor climbing walls stay open?
Unfortunately, climbing walls will have to close in England from 5 November in common with other indoor leisure facilities. With walls closed, there may be an increased demand to climb outdoors, but please bear in mind that with the weather taking a turn for the worse, some rock types can be easily damaged in wet or damp conditions.
The extremely fragile southern sandstone crags, in particular, are even more at risk of damage if wet or damp. Understandably this area has been the focal point for a surge of south-east and London climbers this year, and increased numbers combined with damp rock has the potential to cause significant damage. Don’t be tempted to climb on fragile rock types if wet or damp, it is all too easy to accelerate rock erosion and snap small holds. If in doubt, leave it for a day when the rock is dry.
WATCH: Southern Sandstone Top Roping: Respect The Rock
Can Mountain Training courses and instruction proceed during lockdown?
The guidance, as it stands, allows for work that can’t be done from home and education to continue. This suggests that some Mountain Training qualification courses run in England may be able to continue (subject to challenges around accommodation). They are both work for those teaching and education for those attending (various Mountain Training courses are accredited by Ofqual - the qualifications regulator in England). All courses are being run in a Covid-secure way.
When it comes to instruction of clients not taking part in a qualification course, the guidance suggests that this may be possible on a one-to-one (instructor to client) basis, but we are still working with our partners Mountain Training and Sport England to understand this fully. As mentioned at the start of the article, we are currently working from guidance rather than legislation (which hasn’t been released yet), so our understanding on this may change as and when this becomes available.
Can club meets still run during lockdown?
Meets in England will need to be suspended during Lockdown 2. The situation after 2 December is not yet known. For more information about Covid-19 and how it affects club huts and club meets, go to our article which is being regularly updated as the situation changes.
So, that covers England, what is happening in Wales?
Wales is still in a national lockdown and will remain so until Monday 9 November. After that, there will be new rules in place, but they have not yet been fully clarified.
The statement that was released earlier this week does evoke hope for a positive step towards returning back to climbing and hill walking however.
We will post an updates to that article once more guidance and/or legislation has been publicised and we know more.
LIVE Q&A: Tune in at 13.30 on Thursday with your questions
📣 What does the latest English lockdown mean for hillwalking and climbing? Our CEO Dave Turnbull is here to answer your burning questions and give an overview of the latest situation.
Posted by BMC on Tuesday, 3 November 2020
WATCH: Peak District Bouldering: Respect The Rock
We want to say a big thanks to every BMC member who continues to support 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 do it without you.
Did you know that we've launched a U27 membership offer for just £1.50 / month? And with full membership from £2.50 / month, it's never been easier to join and support our work: