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Using the Countryside and Open Spaces During COVID-19 Lockdown

Hereford Voice

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Advice to landowners and the public when accessing public rights of way and open spaces 


The government’s priority is to save lives and the best way to protect yourself and others from illness is to stay at home. However, exercise is still important for people’s physical and mental wellbeing and many people look to take their daily exercise outside.

The extended restrictions on movement announced by the government also apply to public rights of way and everyone must follow government rules and advice for the safety of all.

Please be aware that some people live in very close proximity to public rights of way, which can be through gardens, schools and farmland. Make sure you consider everyone’s need for social distancing, treat each other with respect and remember that some people may be in self-isolation because of illness or other vulnerabilities.

The risk of the Coronavirus being passed on to others from people using public rights of way and other paths and trails is considered to be very low as long as everyone follows the government’s social distancing rules.

  • Advice to landowners

Landowners do not have the legal right to block or obstruct public rights of way. However, in very limited circumstances where large numbers of people are using such routes, landowners may consider the following temporary measures:

  • Tying gates open if it is safe to do so, so that walkers do not need to touch the gate
  • Temporarily displaying polite notices that encourage users to respect local residents and workers by following social distancing guidelines and consider using alternative routes that do not pass through gardens, farmyards or schools
  • Offering an alternative route around gardens and farmyards only where it is safe to do so (you must gain permission from relevant landowners and make sure the route is safe for users and livestock) provided that the original right of way is maintained 
  • All temporary measures must be lifted as soon as social distancing guidelines are relaxed


  • Advice to the public

If you do choose to take your daily exercise outside, make sure you follow the government’s social distancing when accessing countryside or public open spaces local to you.

  • Stay local and use open spaces near to your home where possible – do not travel unnecessarily
  • You can leave the house for one form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle – alone or with members of your household only
  • Even when doing these activities, you should be minimising time spent outside of the home and ensuring you are 2 metres (3 steps apart) apart from anyone outside of your household
  • Follow the Countryside Code
  • If walking your dog in areas used by other people, you should walk your dog on a lead to ensure you can safely keep 2 metres away from others.
  • Take home your used tissues and litter 
  • Ensure you wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds when you return home. Use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
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