After two months of being confined to our homes, lockdown rules have started to ease in London. As of Wednesday (May 13), what we are and aren’t allowed to do – and where we’re allowed to go – has changed. The government has published a 60-page document called ‘Our Plan to Rebuild’ which sets out the next steps for the UK to slowly come out of lockdown, and it includes some detail on travelling out of London for short periods of time.
Government guidance states that, as well as now being able to exercise an unlimited amount or simply to enjoy being outside in nature without exercising, ‘day trips to outdoor open space, in a private vehicle, are permitted’.
This is okay ‘because this does not involve contact with people outside your household’ – and is likely to be welcome news for those of us who don’t have access to a garden or balcony, or a green space nearby.
So where can we go? Technically, any outdoor open space in England.
The government has stated: ‘You can drive as far as you want to, for example, to go and walk in a particular area that you are fond of, as long as you maintain social distancing.’ The public in England can drive anywhere as long as they don’t drive into Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, where lockdown rules are currently different. According to officials, that includes driving to take a walk in the countryside, or to visit a park or a beach.
However, it is worth noting that although the government has said it’s now allowed, a lot of rural residents and local councils are still keen to deter people from visiting their area. Camber Sands in East Sussex, for example, is urging daytrippers to stay at home. Cllr Doug Oliver from Rother District Council, says: ‘Our message to anyone thinking of travelling to Camber or Bexhill for a day on the beach is “please don’t”… large numbers of people on our beaches could risk a second spike in this deadly virus.’
Officials in Kent have specifically called for Londoners not to visit, with North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale saying: ‘I have spent 37 years in Parliament promoting the joys of Margate and Herne Bay and it breaks my heart to have to say, for the moment, please don’t come to the seaside – we’re still shut.’
Meanwhile, Cumbria Police has urged people not to ‘rush to the Lake District’, the Peak District has asked people to continue using their local parks instead of taking the journey to the National Park, the mayors of Yorkshire seaside towns Scarborough, Whitby and Filey have said ‘now is not the right time’ to visit and Visit Cornwall has also asked visitors to stay away.
If you do decide to venture out of the city for a socially distanced and responsible walk in the countryside soon, bear in mind that facilities such as public toilets and some car parks remain closed, and beaches won’t have lifeguards as they usually would at this time of year. The government is urging people not to use public transport unless absolutely necessary, so travelling out of the city by train is not permitted at the moment either.
You and your household can head outdoors for your physical & mental wellbeing in England.— Nigel Huddleston MP #StayAlert (@HuddlestonNigel) May 13, 2020
But be respectful to local people & communities.
You must adopt social distancing at all times.
Then return to your primary home - No overnight stays, including second homes & holiday homes. pic.twitter.com/ablykdScrx
Oh, and one final thing: overnight stays, whether in holiday homes, friends’ homes, second homes or even tents, remain very much NOT allowed. So no weekend breaks for us just yet.