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Advice about walking during COVID 19

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The information in this blog was correct and based on up to date guidance as of 23/10/20. Please check https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus for the most up to date information before engaging in any activity.

Local COVID alert levels set out information for local authorities, residents and workers about what to do and how to manage the outbreak in their area.

Find out what you can and cannot do if you live, work or travel in each local COVID alert level.

Check the local COVID alert level of your local area to see which level applies to you.

Why the government is introducing local COVID alert levels

The government is committed to ensuring the right levels of intervention in the right places to manage outbreaks. Working with local authorities through the contain framework, our approach has been simplified so that there are now 3 local COVID alert levels.

Three tier alert system

The introduction of the three tier alert system means guidance is subject to change, depending on local and national government agreements. Read the full information on the covid alert levels here. Greater Manchester is currently (From 23rd October) within Tier 3 of the government alert level system.

Local COVID alert level: very high

What outdoor activity is permitted in Greater Manchester within Tier 3?

  • National governing body-approved organised team sport, exercise classes and outdoor licensed physical activity and sport participation events can happen in any number provided they’re in line with Covid-secure guidance.
  • Informal sport and activity such as informal walking must adhere to the Rule of Six.
  • You must not socialise in a group of more than 6 in an outdoor public space such as a park or beach, the countryside, a public garden or a sports venue
  • you must not socialise with anybody you do not live with or have formed a support bubble with, in any indoor setting or in any private garden or at most outdoor hospitality venues and ticketed events
  • You should not travel into or out of an area to walk, if it has been categorised as a very high alert level (Tier 3) area.
  • You must:

    You should continue to:

    • follow social distancing rules
    • work from home where you can effectively do so
    • travel to venues or amenities that are open, for work or to access education, but aim to reduce the number of journeys you make

    This is the baseline in very high alert level areas. The government will also seek to agree additional interventions in consultation with local authorities, in order to reduce the spread of the virus. These could include the following options:

    • restrictions preventing the sale of alcohol in hospitality or closing all hospitality (except takeaway and delivery)
    • closing indoor and outdoor entertainment venues and tourist attractions
    • closing venues such as leisure centres and gyms (while ensuring provision remains available for elite athletes, youth and disabled sport and physical activity)
    • closing public buildings, such as libraries and community centres (while ensuring provision remains available for youth and childcare activities and support groups)
    • The latest government guidance affects where and how many people can gather for sport and physical activity. Please be aware of and adhere to the guidelines.
    • Frequently asked questions related to the return of sport and physical activity here.
    • Club Matters have created a range of resources to support clubs and organisations to get back to activity here.
    • Activity Alliance have shared the top ways to adapt activities to be inclusive of both disabled and non-disabled people. See how you can adapt your activities here.

Find out more about the measures that apply in very high alert level areas to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.

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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