Staged easing of restrictions on outdoor recreation

I believe the current restrictions on outdoor recreation provide an area where a staged easing could be introduced at a very early stage, thereby enabling people to take much needed activity that would benefit their physical and mental health. I am aware that rural communities, like the one I live in myself, are keen to keep the virus out of our villages and small towns. On that basis, whilst I am taking daily recreation from my home, I am happy for the time-being to not travel to other areas to go hillwalking, because I don't want to take the risk, however small a risk it might be, of taking the virus to another rural community. However, I think that restrictions could start to be eased in the following ways: Travel by car for recreation could be introduced on a limited mileage basis. The new guidelines in England, linking time traveled to time taking recreation, is too complicated. A mileage limit would be easier to understand. If this was set at 10, 15 or 20 miles from your home, it would allow many people in cities to get to better quality greenspace and even out to the countryside. This should result in helping to spread the load in terms of where people are taking their recreation. This limited easing of travel should be combined with the re-opening of car parks that have been closed, and removal of the time limits on going outdoors for recreation. Another aspect of informal outdoor recreation where current restrictions could be eased is in relation to being allowed to stop moving and just sit down. Reports of people being moved on because they sat down in a park or laid down to sunbathe have come across as overly zealous and potentially damaging to people's mental health. I don't see a problem with someone sitting or lying down in the outdoors if they are complying with social distancing guidelines. Having said that, if I was sitting down in a park for any length of time, I would want to be more than 2 metres from someone from outwith my own household. A social distancing guideline could say 5 metres, or even as much as 10 metres between people sitting down. Although these are not my personal hobbies, I don't see why the easing measures I've suggested above couldn't be applied to other activities like golf and fishing. Given that there is much more greenspace and open countryside in Scotland, and we have more enlightened access laws than in other parts of the UK, then I feel that the kind of easing I've suggested would make Scottish guidelines more appropriate for Scottish society.

Why the contribution is important

Informal outdoor recreation, whether it be walking, running and cycling, or just sitting on the grass in a city park, is vital for our physical and mental well-being. Whilst we all have to amend our normal lifestyles to help fight the Covid-19 outbreak, we do have to be very careful not to erode civil liberties to the point where we create equally serious problems associated with physical and mental health issues. I believe that my suggestions are timely and strike a balance between protecting wider society, including rural communities, from Covid-19, and protecting the physical and mental well-being of the residents of Scotland.

by Luigi on May 08, 2020 at 12:12PM

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Based on: 20 votes

Comments

  • Posted by petrav May 08, 2020 at 12:29

    A very well considered idea. I think just creating a slightly wider geographic area for recreation is the first step, then perhaps widening this area to include one-day activities in the hills, and opening up campsites, holidays homes, etc. as the final step.
  • Posted by GJBB May 08, 2020 at 13:52

    Strongly support this. Short drives to increase available leisure spaces facilitates social distancing.
  • Posted by AliBe May 11, 2020 at 18:24

    I agree that putting in place a distance restriction for travelling to take outdoor exercise is a good idea. It would allow people in cities and towns to get into the countryside, without everyone flocking to the same places.
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