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Rights of Way are still open

April 29, 2020 10:19 AM

Staying at home all day and not getting exercise can have side-effects such as obesity, ill health and insanity, so the importance of getting out safely is recognised by experts. There are no restrictions on the public's right to use designated footpaths in rural areas, but common sense and courtesy to landowners and other walkers are necessary. Natural England say:

"The risk of the coronavirus being passed on to others from people using public rights of way and other paths and trails is considered to be very low as long as people follow the Government's instructions to maintain social distancing. But if possible try to avoid using footpaths etc that may take you through a farmstead or other rural business where social distancing may be difficult.

Landowners do not have the legal right to block or obstruct public rights of way. However, in very limited circumstances where large numbers of people are using such routes, landowners may consider the following measures:

  • tying gates open if it is safe to do so, so that walkers do not need to touch the gate.
  • temporarily displaying polite notices that encourage users to respect local residents and workers by following social distancing guidelines and consider using alternative routes that do not pass through gardens, farmyards or schools.
  • offering an alternative route around gardens and farmyards only where it is safe to do so (you must gain permission from relevant landowners and make sure the route is safe for users and livestock) provided that the original right of way is maintained."

More information at https://www.gov.uk/government/news/operational-update-covid-19