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Advice about walking during COVID 19

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National lockdown: Stay at Home

Coronavirus cases are rising rapidly across the country. Find out what you can and cannot do.

On Monday 4 January, the Prime Minister announced a new national lockdown to counter the steep rise in coronavirus (Covid-19) infections in England. The new restrictions become law on Wednesday 6 January, but people should follow them as of now. Read the full government guidance for the national lockdown here.

You can exercise with your household (or support bubble) or one other person, this should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area.

  • You can exercise in a public outdoor place:
    by yourself
  • with the people you live with
  • with your support bubble (if you are legally permitted to form one)
  • in a childcare bubble where providing childcare
    or, when on your own, with 1 person from another household

Public outdoor places include:

  • parks, beaches, countryside accessible to the public, forests
    public gardens (whether or not you pay to enter them)
  • the grounds of a heritage site
  • playgrounds

Hands. Face. Space.

Approximately 1 in 3 people who have coronavirus have no symptoms and could be spreading it without realising it.

Remember – ‘Hands. Face. Space.’

  • hands – wash your hands regularly and for at least 20 seconds
  • face – wear a face covering in indoor settings where social distancing may be difficult, and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet
  • space – stay 2 metres apart from people you do not live with where possible, or 1 metre with extra precautions in place (such as wearing face coverings)

In all circumstances, you should follow the guidance on meeting others safely.

When you can leave home

You must not leave or be outside of your home except where you have a ‘reasonable excuse’. This will be put in law. The police can take action against you if you leave home without a ‘reasonable excuse’, and issue you with a fine (Fixed Penalty Notice).

You can be given a Fixed Penalty Notice of £200 for the first offence, doubling for further offences up to a maximum of £6,400.

A ‘reasonable excuse’ includes:

  • Work – you can only leave home for work purposes where it is unreasonable for you to do your job from home, including but not limited to people who work within critical national infrastructure, construction or manufacturing that require in-person attendance
  • Volunteering – you can also leave home to provide voluntary or charitable services.
  • Essential activities – you can leave home to buy things at shops or obtain services. You may also leave your home to do these things on behalf of a disabled or vulnerable person or someone self-isolating.
  • Education and childcare – You can only leave home for education, registered childcare, and supervised activities for children where they are eligible to attend. Access to education and children’s activities for school-aged pupils is restricted. See further information on education and childcare. People can continue existing arrangements for contact between parents and children where they live apart. This includes childcare bubbles.
  • Meeting others and care – You can leave home to visit people in your support bubble ( if you are legally permitted to form one), to provide informal childcare for children under 14 as part of a childcare bubble (for example, to enable parents to work, and not to enable social contact between adults), to provide care for disabled or vulnerable people, to provide emergency assistance, to attend a support group (of up to 15 people), or for respite care where that care is being provided to a vulnerable person or a person with a disability, or is a short break in respect of a looked-after child.
  • Exercise – You can continue to exercise alone, with one other person or with your household or support bubble. This should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area.You should maintain social distancing. See exercising and meeting other people.
  • Medical reasons – You can leave home for a medical reason, including to get a COVID-19 test, for medical appointments and emergencies.

Respect other people and protect the natural environment

Remember your actions can affect people’s lives and livelihoods. Take the time to read signage. Respect the measures that local authorities and site management have put in place to help ensure social distancing.

Before travelling, you should check if facilities, such as car parks, are open to visitors. Do not park on verges or block gates. This restricts access for other vehicles.

When in the countryside, follow the Countryside Code. You can do this by:

  • leaving no trace of your visit and taking all of your litter home
  • not using barbecues as they risk causing wildfires
  • keeping dogs under effective control and on a lead when you are around farm animals – read further guidance for pet owners
  • leaving gates as you find them and following instructions on signs
  • keeping to footpaths and following signs where they suggest alternative routes

Wildlife may have moved into areas where it hasn’t previously been found, including nesting birds. Land managers may have taken action to provide extra protection of wildlife. Be vigilant and comply with these protective measures to ensure you do not disrupt the local wildlife.

In addition, we urge all walkers to:

  • Be sensitive to rural communities if considering travelling further from home to walk.
  • Avoid activities that may result in injury or require emergency services support, especially in remote locations.
  • Be aware that popular locations like National Parks or the coast may be very busy, making social distancing difficult.
  • Plan ahead, as some sites and facilities may be closed or have restrictions.

In many cases, the best option will be to stay local and explore the local area on foot.

Our guidance in light of the latest government advice

It is clear that Coronavirus has not gone away, and we need to continue to help control the virus to save lives. If you or anyone in your household has Coronavirus symptoms, you should continue to self-isolate.

If you are clinically vulnerable (i.e. over 70 or with a listed underlying health condition) you are advised to take particular care to minimise contact with others outside your household.

Walking in your local area achieves a balance. You can stay fit and healthy, and ensure you’re doing your bit by maintaining social distance.

The government is still encouraging people to exercise, and we (obviously) agree. So here are the best reasons and top tips for going for a walk.

Why go for a walk?

Keep fit and healthy

Walking packs more of a punch than most people realise! Good for our hearts, lungs and blood (that’s blood pressure, sugar levels and blood flow) walking is a brilliant, low impact way to get and stay healthy.

Unless you’re self-isolating, you can still head outside and take your daily walk at the moment. Just remember to keep your eye on government advice to ensure you’re doing things safely.

Combat stress and promote good mental health

Evidence shows that a good walk can do wonders for our mental wellbeing. We’ve always said that a good stroll is good for your northern soul, and that’s true now more than ever.

Walking for at least 10 minutes a day is a great way to relieve stress, improve self-esteem and help with anxiety.

During difficult times, knowing how to manage our stress and worries is so important and walking is a fantastic way to help with this!

Get exploring from your doorstep

All this talk of social distancing and reduced contact can feel quite isolating, but it doesn’t have to be. As well as connecting with your loved ones using phone calls and video chats, you can connect with your surroundings too.

Whether you live in a more green and rural part of Greater Manchester or somewhere colourfully urban, once a day you can still go explore in your local area. Check out the routes page on our website to see if there is one close to your home that you can discover.

Use this time to listen to new music, find a new favourite podcast or help the kids stretch their legs. Get some comfy shoes on and feel the wind on your skin

How should I be walking? - Follow government advice

Government advice will continue to evolve as time goes on, but right now we are still being encouraged to stay active within the restrictions, and walking is an easy and accessible way to do this.

30 minutes a day

The government’s Chief Medical Officer recommends 150 minutes of ‘moderate intensity’ exercise a week for adults. That translates to 30 minutes of walking every weekday.

This can be first thing in the morning to prepare for the day ahead, a lunchtime walk as a break from your makeshift office, or an evening walk to wind down.

Finding a rhythm that suits you is important. Don’t worry about distance or pace, just appreciate the time spent on foot!

Can’t go out?

If you are self-isolating and happen to have some outdoor space, walking around your garden might reveal spring-time sights, smells and sounds you’d never even noticed.

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