Walking during periods of social distancing
We want to help you make the most of your time outdoors
This blog post was last updated on the 29th May 2020. For our most up to date advice on Covid-19 in line with the NHS and Government recommendations click here.
We believe regular walking is key to helping you lead a happy and healthy life. With the recent outbreak of Covid-19, many of us have seen our regular routines and activities turned upside-down. But it is as important as ever that we do what we can to look after our physical and mental wellbeing. Walking is one way we can do this.
The Scottish Government announced an easing of lockdown to Phase One from Friday 29th May. The full guidance is on the Scottish Government website - Coronavirus (Covid-19): staying at home and away from others (physical distancing).
There are some key changes affecting walking, active travel and physical activity, which include:
- You can now exercise and do other outdoor activity, including walking, with members of one other household at a time.
- You should only meet one other household within the same day and up to a recommended maximum of eight people in the overall group.
- You can use outdoor spaces for other recreational purposes, for example to sit or relax alone or with one other household.
- You should always maintain physical distancing of at least two metres between different households.
- You should use judgement and take part in activity only if you can do so safely, maintaining physical distancing and not putting yourself or others at risk.
- You should avoid crowded places where physical distancing may be difficult.
- Try to stay local. However, you can now travel for up to 5 miles for exercise, recreation and to meet friends and family outdoors. You should walk, wheel or cycle where possible when travelling.
Fresh air and being outdoors is not only positive for your physical health, but it can help to reduce any stress, anxiety or other mental health conditions. We believe it is important for people to continue to enjoy short, local walks where it is safe and appropriate to do so.
Make a short walk an important part of your daily routine. Whether you’re used to walking regularly, or haven’t walked in a while, a local walk for exercise is an important way we can all maintain good health and wellbeing.
You might want to plan your walk for a time in the day when it is likely to be quieter. If you do meet other walkers, be sure to stay at least two metres apart. Plan your walking routes straight from your front door, or just a short journey (up to 5 miles) away.
If you’ve recently moved to working from home, or have children at home, plan a daily walk as a break away from technology, work calls or school work.
Choose routes right from your own front door if you can, to avoid non-essential travel. You should try to visit places you know will be quiet, away from hotspots. Keep a distance of at least two metres from other people. You might surprise yourself and find some local routes you haven’t visited before.
In this together
Now is a time for personal and collective resilience and staying active, hopefully outdoors, but also indoors, is key to us staying healthy and well. Encourage others in your household, or friends and family you’re keeping in touch with to do the same.
Wash your hands before you leave and when you return home.
Leave plenty of space - at least 2 metres - when passing others. This courtesy may mean stepping onto verges, slowing down or waiting at a wider part of a path or pavement to let others pass.
Try to avoid touching gates and fences if you can. If you do, don’t touch your face, and wash your hands as soon as you can afterwards.
If you are walking close by or in farmland, remember that farm work is essential and farmers will be using gates and infrastructure for work purposes. Keep a safe distance especially during the busy lambing season.
Dog walkers, particularly should be careful during the spring and check out the Dog Owners Leaflet for more information.
More information is available through the ‘Ministerial statement on access rights during COVID-19’ published 9 April 2020.
Our partners Living Streets have put together a Q&A covering the key questions on the current social distancing requirements and walking.