Friday 22nd May 2020, 4:17pm
The Scottish Government has produced a ‘route map’ for emerging from the coronavirus crisis.
Published on 21st May, the Covid-19 Framework for Decision-making proposes a phased approach to easing the lockdown restrictions. It is important to note, however, that there is no immediate change to the lockdown guidelines and for the next week at least the message is stay at home.
The First Minister indicated that at the next review of the guidelines on the 28th May, it may be possible to move into Phase 1 of the route map, subject to certain public health criteria being met. Phase 1 advice states that you can continue to participate in unrestricted outdoors exercise adhering to distancing measures. This may be extended to include “non-contact, outdoor activities in your local areas e.g. golf, hiking, canoeing, outdoor swimming, angling. You will also be able to meet up with members of another household whilst outdoors.” Public health guidance – including physical distancing - will continue to apply to any activity.
Of particular relevance to Mountaineering Scotland members is that everyone would be permitted to travel short distances for outdoor leisure and exercise – although the advice is to stay within a short distance of your local community (broadly within 5 miles) and to travel on foot or cycle where possible. As reported today there is also a suggestion from Government that there is some flexibility in the guidance with the aim of avoiding people congregating at tourist hotspots. We are seeking further clarification on this advice and what is acceptable in terms of travel at Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the route map.
We are pleased to see “hiking” referred to in Phase 1 which means we can start planning a safe and responsible return to the hills. Further assessment of the route map is needed to establish what this means for climbers. Mountaineering Scotland will continue to work with the Mountain Safety Group to publish detailed guidelines next week for hillwalking and climbing in preparation for the move to Phase 1.
The relaxation of the guidance to include a wider range of outdoor activities is welcome news for many outdoor sports although these opportunities will continue to be limited as a result of the travel restrictions in the early stages. CEO Stuart Younie said “We understand the Government is having to make some extremely tough decisions and the need to be cautious about easing lockdown. Whilst the document has some good news in it and we can start to prepare for a return to the hills, the next few weeks are going to be hard particularly for our members living in the central belt and larger cities. They have had limited opportunity to enjoy the outdoors during lockdown and further clarity is required.”
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