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Long distance walks under new lockdown guidelines

Re: Long distance walks under new lockdown guidelines

Postby Robertgee » Wed Feb 24, 2021 3:05 am

Let's face it, these travel restrictions are getting beyond a joke now. Lone travel for lone exercise hill walking or long distance walks like bjornsether wishes to do, are 100% safe. So long as we avoid crowded places, go on our own (or with others from same household), and don't meet with others while away. Going back to the old tier system (which didn't work) means more people can meet, all schools to return, even hospitality can begin to reopen, all of which can spread the virus. But lone hillwalking, which is unlikely to cause any spread, will still be effectively banned. This was fine during first lockdown, but we've learned a lot about the virus since then. There are activities which could cause spread, (this includes going to other people's homes, workplaces, shopping, socialising, etc) so either ban or restrict these. There are also activities which doesn't cause spread, (includes many outdoor activities carried out by individuals, hillwalking, fishing, etc) so allow these. Simple as that, mostly just commonsense for responsible people. Travel itself doesn't cause the virus to spread, it's what people do during and after travel which causes the spread. (International travel is a problem and definitely needs restrictions, as this involves lots interactions with others so isn't done on your own). Most things seem to be exempt from the travel ban anyway, workplaces are open, it's mainly just hospitality and non essential shops that are shut, so lots of travelling still taking place, including car sharing and busy public transport. These are permitted and are definitely spreading the virus all around the country. Banning travel for lone responsible outdoor exercise will have little effect on the spread, but it's easy to just not care and impose a blanket ban...rant mode off. :roll:
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Re: Long distance walks under new lockdown guidelines

Postby Alex W » Wed Feb 24, 2021 10:03 am

I absolutely agree @robertgee A solo trek is no danger to anyone, although I understand that our safe activity can't easily be segregated in law from the unsafe activities which would take place without the ban.

I can only hope that the lifting of the "stay at home" instruction which is scheduled for 12th April includes the removal of the travel restriction on going outside the LA area. It's not just walking - as it stands I will not be allowed to see my elderly parents in Glasgow for another 3 months because I live in Edinburgh and am not permitted to travel. So you can be a designated visitor for someone in a care home and can increase the number of people you can meet outdoors and then indoors, but only if you're in the same LA area. I hope sense prevails and that the infection numbers continue to go down, our freedom to travel in our country will be restored.
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Re: Long distance walks under new lockdown guidelines

Postby KatTai » Wed Feb 24, 2021 10:41 am

Robertgee wrote:Let's face it, these travel restrictions are getting beyond a joke now. Lone travel for lone exercise hill walking or long distance walks like bjornsether wishes to do, are 100% safe. So long as we avoid crowded places, go on our own (or with others from same household), and don't meet with others while away. Going back to the old tier system (which didn't work) means more people can meet, all schools to return, even hospitality can begin to reopen, all of which can spread the virus. But lone hillwalking, which is unlikely to cause any spread, will still be effectively banned. This was fine during first lockdown, but we've learned a lot about the virus since then. There are activities which could cause spread, (this includes going to other people's homes, workplaces, shopping, socialising, etc) so either ban or restrict these. There are also activities which doesn't cause spread, (includes many outdoor activities carried out by individuals, hillwalking, fishing, etc) so allow these. Simple as that, mostly just commonsense for responsible people. Travel itself doesn't cause the virus to spread, it's what people do during and after travel which causes the spread. (International travel is a problem and definitely needs restrictions, as this involves lots interactions with others so isn't done on your own). Most things seem to be exempt from the travel ban anyway, workplaces are open, it's mainly just hospitality and non essential shops that are shut, so lots of travelling still taking place, including car sharing and busy public transport. These are permitted and are definitely spreading the virus all around the country. Banning travel for lone responsible outdoor exercise will have little effect on the spread, but it's easy to just not care and impose a blanket ban...rant mode off. :roll:


Agree especially when looking at the case numbers for vast areas of Scotland. The numbers recorded don't, to me, justify keeping everyone locked down. They say they are looking at the figures, they must be looking at different figures to the ones that are published in that case! Even Dundee had dropped to 80 cases in the last 7 days yesterday and their previous figures were sky high! And this is with more testing going on.
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Re: Long distance walks under new lockdown guidelines

Postby al78 » Wed Feb 24, 2021 1:03 pm

The authorities are being more conservative than in the past, and rightly so. Twice there has been enthusiasm to lift restrictions and twice the cases have shot up to dangerous levels. One should learn from past experience, not deny it ever happened, so a more softly-softly approach is reasonable. We are fortunately in a much better situation now with rapid vaccine rollout so we should appreciate that it is only a matter of time before we get our full freedom back.

I agree that solo hillwalking/backpacking/wild camping is virtually risk free, but it is not practical for the government to list every possible thing anyone might want to do and individually come up with a risk assessment and judgment as to whether it should or not be allowed. Thus we have to have the inferior alternative of categorising large clusters of activities into broad groups and apply rules to those groups, even though individual activities within those groups can be wildly different in terms of transmission risk. It is like it might be perfectly safe to drive at 150 mph on the motorway if no-one else is using it and you have the appropriate skill, and it might be dangerous to drive at 30 mph past a school at home time, but that doesn't mean having blanket speed limits is a bad thing.
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Re: Long distance walks under new lockdown guidelines

Postby bjornsether » Wed Feb 24, 2021 2:13 pm

Thanks for all the responses, everyone. I'm sure there are differing opinions about what *should* be the case, but all we have to go on is Sturgeon's short announcement, as far as I have seen.

Stay-at-home order will be lifted as soon as April 5. Possibly later. Any hard evidence that, according to the new "plan" (such as it is, quite vague compared with England's), we will not be able to leave the LA until some later date? If the stay-at-home order is lifted, why would this not mean that we would legally be allowed to travel in-country, even if such is not advised or actively discouraged?

Again, my position is: I don't want to break any laws, but I have no qualms engaging in solo walking and wild camping when this is legally possible.
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Re: Long distance walks under new lockdown guidelines

Postby Alex W » Wed Feb 24, 2021 2:20 pm

bjornsether wrote:Thanks for all the responses, everyone. I'm sure there are differing opinions about what *should* be the case, but all we have to go on is Sturgeon's short announcement, as far as I have seen.

Stay-at-home order will be lifted as soon as April 5. Possibly later. Any hard evidence that, according to the new "plan" (such as it is, quite vague compared with England's), we will not be able to leave the LA until some later date? If the stay-at-home order is lifted, why would this not mean that we would legally be allowed to travel in-country, even if such is not advised or actively discouraged?

Again, my position is: I don't want to break any laws, but I have no qualms engaging in solo walking and wild camping when this is legally possible.


The hard evidence is the FMs statement yesterday and the law. Again today at the press conference there is no commitment to a date to lift the travel restriction. The law is that we cannot move outside the LA area. Level 3 is still framed to disallow travel outside the LA area. That is the current law.

What we want and what the FM seems to be suggesting is that the law will be removed before the mid May date. That is not a commitment. We will all welcome being able to travel again and I certainly hope it is in line with the earlier date of easing the "Stay at Home" message.
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Re: Long distance walks under new lockdown guidelines

Postby KatTai » Wed Feb 24, 2021 4:13 pm

al78 wrote:The authorities are being more conservative than in the past, and rightly so. Twice there has been enthusiasm to lift restrictions and twice the cases have shot up to dangerous levels. One should learn from past experience, not deny it ever happened, so a more softly-softly approach is reasonable. We are fortunately in a much better situation now with rapid vaccine rollout so we should appreciate that it is only a matter of time before we get our full freedom back.

I agree that solo hillwalking/backpacking/wild camping is virtually risk free, but it is not practical for the government to list every possible thing anyone might want to do and individually come up with a risk assessment and judgment as to whether it should or not be allowed. Thus we have to have the inferior alternative of categorising large clusters of activities into broad groups and apply rules to those groups, even though individual activities within those groups can be wildly different in terms of transmission risk. It is like it might be perfectly safe to drive at 150 mph on the motorway if no-one else is using it and you have the appropriate skill, and it might be dangerous to drive at 30 mph past a school at home time, but that doesn't mean having blanket speed limits is a bad thing.


Category: Non-Contact solo/small group outdoor activity. Non-contact outdoor activity is known to be low-risk, there is no reason to not allow outdoor activity - walking, fishing, golf, running, cycling etc - to go ahead. As it is, allowing more freedom for these activities is at the back of the queue behind getting people into churches, pubs and polling stations. Restrictions need to be logical, and I'm afraid I can't see the logic here!
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Re: Long distance walks under new lockdown guidelines

Postby bjornsether » Wed Feb 24, 2021 4:32 pm

Alex W - can you direct me to the LA law? I'm not doubting that you are right about it . . . just want to know where I can look for reliable and up-to-date information in that regard.

Thanks.
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Re: Long distance walks under new lockdown guidelines

Postby gman » Wed Feb 24, 2021 4:36 pm

Alex W wrote:The law is that we cannot move outside the LA area. Level 3 is still framed to disallow travel outside the LA area. That is the current law.


Examples of reasonable excuse

(t)undertake exercise or recreation—
(i)outdoors,
(ii)that starts and ends at the same place, which place must be—
(aa)in the local government area in which that person lives, or
(bb)within 5 miles of such local government area

https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ssi/2020/344/schedule/5

That's the current law, note that there's no time limit on the duration of exercise/recreation or distance limit other than the start point.
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Re: Long distance walks under new lockdown guidelines

Postby bjornsether » Wed Feb 24, 2021 4:46 pm

So it may be that starting 5 April, it is technically legal to undertake solo multi-day wild-camping walks IF one starts within 5 miles of the LA and returns to the same place.
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Re: Long distance walks under new lockdown guidelines

Postby gman » Wed Feb 24, 2021 5:17 pm

bjornsether wrote:So it may be that starting 5 April, it is technically legal to undertake solo multi-day wild-camping walks IF one starts within 5 miles of the LA and returns to the same place.


It's legal to do that now.

https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ssi/2020/344/schedule/5/2021-02-19
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Re: Long distance walks under new lockdown guidelines

Postby al78 » Wed Feb 24, 2021 5:31 pm

I'm now wondering whether my planned hike from Glenfinnan to Glen Shiel at the beginning of June will be allowed. I'm also wondering, if I can and do go ahead, whether the bothies will be open. My planned route is bothy to bothy walking plus a couple of B&B stops.
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Re: Long distance walks under new lockdown guidelines

Postby davekeiller » Wed Feb 24, 2021 7:35 pm

At the moment we don't know.

The First Minister has said that more detail will be announced in mid-March.
Until then, it is pure speculation what the levels will even mean.
It has been suggested that there will be some changes to the definitions of the levels, and their restrictions. It is hoped that all areas will be able to go into level 3 on 26th April, but that is not guaranteed. The levels will then be reviewed every three weeks.

It is also unclear when travel between England and Scotland (other than for essential purposes) will be permitted again.

As to whether bothies will be open, that is a matter for the Mountain Bothies Association. I suspect that they will be open as soon as it is legal to do so.
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Re: Long distance walks under new lockdown guidelines

Postby Alex W » Wed Feb 24, 2021 8:19 pm

gman wrote:
bjornsether wrote:So it may be that starting 5 April, it is technically legal to undertake solo multi-day wild-camping walks IF one starts within 5 miles of the LA and returns to the same place.


It's legal to do that now.

https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ssi/2020/344/schedule/5/2021-02-19


I'm not one to p* in anyone's chips, but I don't think that would stand up in Court. The allowable activity is exercise. You would have to argue that the period you are wild camping is exercise. As for at least some of the time you intend to be asleep, that might not stand. You would then also fall foul of not starting and ending your exercise in the same place. To be legal you would need to argue convincingly that your entire period of 3 to 4 days or however long it is, was continuous exercise. Bear in mind that for a while there carrying a cup of coffee was deemed to exclude you from undertaking exercise.

I really, really hope we will soon have these discussions as entertaining sideshows in the bar while we plan our following days walk somewhere in the Highlands, but right now I am battling away the depressing thought that the legislation might be with us well into May and God forbid, maybe into June. I'll share a whoop of joy and a virtual pint when we get our "freedom to even get to the hills never mind freedom to roam" back.
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Re: Long distance walks under new lockdown guidelines

Postby davekeiller » Wed Feb 24, 2021 8:30 pm

@Alex W I suspect that you're probably right re whether wildcamping would stand up in court.

The First Minister has announced that regional tiers will be reintroduced from 26th April and will then be reviewed every 3 weeks.
This means that the tiers will be reviewed on 17th May, 7th June and 28th June. I would be surprised if at least some restrictions didn't persist until mid-July.
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