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Outdoor recreation leaders back Prime Minister and urge public to stay local if getting active outside

Monday 23 March 2020

British Canoeing is part of a 35-strong group of leading national outdoor activity, tourism, nature, health and rescue organisations, that has come together to back the Prime Minister’s call for the public to behave responsibly while exercising outside.

Outdoor Group 23 3 2020

In a joint statement, the group offers support to the Government and advises the nation on how to stay active safely during the COVID-19 outbreak.

During the daily COVID-19 news conference on Sunday 22 March 2020, Prime Minister Boris Johnson  stated: “It is very important for people’s mental and physical well-being that they should be able to get out and exercise if they possibly can, and many, many people do not have access to private green spaces…That’s why parks, open spaces are so absolutely crucial for our country and for our society, but when we do that we have to do it responsibly.”

He warned the public that they need to follow social distancing guidelines, or the Government will be forced to restrict access to more open spaces.

In response to the developing COVID-19 outbreak, the group of organisations from the outdoor recreation industry which also includes The Outdoor Industry Association, The National Trust and Forestry England have been liaising together closely, and talking directly with Government departments and Public Health England staff.

The group has issued the following statement to help the public exercise safely outside:

“In this time of national crisis, when almost all forms of indoor entertainment and social gatherings are severely restricted, a balance can be struck. As the Prime Minister outlined, we must preserve the health of the vulnerable and restrict the spread of COVID-19, while doing all that we can to maintain the mental, social and physical health of the nation. We endorse this approach and encourage the public to strictly follow social distancing guidance while exercising outside, close to home.

“A nation in lockdown could lead to enhanced anxiety, depression, social unrest, mental and physical ill health, and social poverty. In contrast, carefully managed local exercise, inside or outside, will provide welcome active release for individuals and families feeling trapped. Getting into the outdoors sensibly very close to our own homes now, will make it easier for all of us to sustain other official guidelines and preserve the health of the vulnerable in the longer term.

“Fully respecting the need for the ill and vulnerable to remain self-isolated, for those healthy individuals and families with no symptoms, getting active outside remains one of the very few tools left to fight the social impact of this disease.

“We 35 national outdoor organisations advocate the following:

·         Enjoy active outdoor recreation in your local area, while practicing good social distancing at all times

·         Do not travel to popular tourist areas and reduce the risk of groups gathering in one place

·         Stay close to home – consider low risk, familiar activities in local areas

·         Avoid public transport and social gatherings – keep active by travelling on foot or bike

·         Outdoor play and learning opportunities that reflect government guidelines are available to children, including those of key workers attending school.

“To the extent areas of the outdoors remain open, if you can get outside close to home while taking sensible precautions, then please do so. Now, possibly more than ever, staying active is vital to everyones physical and mental well-being.”

Great Britain's official mapping agency Ordnance Survey (OS) has reminded the public that even in the country’s more densely populated areas, no-one is ever far from a green space, such as a local park. To find the nearest green space anywhere in the country, use the online tool at https://getoutside.ordnancesur....

Where OS doesn’t operate, Outdoor Recreation Northern Ireland provides a great source of information via OutmoreNI.com and

 Over the coming weeks, outdoor recreation organisations will use their networks to share ideas and online tutorials for staying active in and near the home. Content will cover a wide range of popular outdoor activities, with tips from experts and high-profile figures in the outdoor sector.

List of organisations that have so far endorsed the statement:

  • The Outdoor Industries Association
  • Ordnance Survey
  • The National Trust 
  • Forestry England
  • The British Mountaineering Council
  • British Cycling 
  • British Canoeing
  • Plas Y Brenin - National Outdoor Centre 
  • Institute for Outdoor Learning
  • English Outdoor Council 
  • Association of Heads of Outdoor Education
  • The Outward Bound Trust 
  • Council for Learning Outside the Classroom 
  • Tourism Alliance
  • UK Active
  • The Camping & Caravanning Club 
  • Sport and Recreation Alliance 
  • Youth Adventure Trust 
  • Mountain Training  
  • British Mountain Guides
  • Association of Mountaineering Instructors
  • British Association of International Mountain Leaders
  • Canal & River Trust
  • Youth Hostel Association
  • Open Spaces Society
  • British Activity Providers Association
  • The Ramblers
  • Walkers are Welcome
  • British Horse Society
  • Northern Ireland Sports Forum
  • Mountaineering Scotland
  • Outdoor Recreation Network
  • Outdoor Recreation Network Northern Ireland
  • British Orienteering.