Coronavirus: New Lockdown Guidance Issued

© Dan Bailey

Following the announcement of national lockdowns across the country, political leaders have set out new guidelines and legislation on travel, exercise and recreation, some of which relate to climbing and hillwalking.

New COVID-19 guidelines on travel and exercise are in place as cases continue to rise.  © Dan Bailey
New COVID-19 guidelines on travel and exercise are in place as cases continue to rise.
© Dan Bailey

We have summarised the guidelines below, but please read the linked guidelines for further detail.

Read the BMC's latest guidance for England and Wales here.


Following the government's announcement of a national lockdown in England, updated guidance has been released on what is acceptable in terms of exercise.

Exercise is permitted once per day, either with your household or bubble, or with one other person.

The guidance for lockdown activities is slightly clearer cut than last year's lockdown where 'local' was never really defined. This time your local area has been clarified as 'the village, town, or part of the city where you live.' This will be disappointing news for some, but good for those who have crags on their doorstep.

Trips away will not be permitted as travelling within the country is only permitted when you have a 'reasonable excuse.' The police will be issuing Fixed Penalty Notices starting at £200, up to a maximum of £6400.

Unfortunately for climbing walls, they will have to remain closed for the foreseeable. The lockdown review date is being reported as February 15th, but many restrictions are likely to last until March.

The BMC issued this statement:

'Climbing and walking appear to be acceptable as a form of exercise under current guidance, but only if it can be done within your local area. However, it is worth stressing once again the immense pressure the NHS is currently under and highlighting the need for everyone to dial back their aspirations to objectives well within their abilities.

'Whilst the new national lockdown will be disappointing news for all, it is hoped that the new guidance together with the rapid roll out of the vaccination programme will allow restrictions to be lifted again in due course once case numbers start to fall.'

Full lockdown guidance for England can be found here.


First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced new Stay at Home guidance. Travel restrictions between local authority areas remain in place, and in and out of Scotland. People are urged to stay as close to home as possible when going out for exercise. The guidance is prefaced with the following:

"Travel no further than you need to reach to a safe, non-crowded place to exercise in a socially distanced way. To minimise the risk of spread of Coronavirus it is crucial that we all avoid unnecessary travel."

Up to 2 people from 2 separate households can meet outdoors for sport, exercise or social interaction.

"You can travel for local outdoor sport or exercise such as meeting another person, walking, cycling, golf or running that starts and finishes at the same place (which can be up to 5 miles from the boundary of your local authority area), as long as you abide by the rules on meeting other households."

Climbing wall facilities remain closed.

Fixed penalties remain in place and two walkers were recently fined for breaking travel rules following their rescue from Buachaille Etive Mòr.

The First Minister has said she cannot guarantee when the latest restrictions will be lifted.

Guidance for Scotland (not up-to-date as of 9 p.m. on 05/01/21) can be found here.


Wales continues its national lockdown which it's been in since December. The rules vary slightly to England; exercise is only permitted from your home - no travel is allowed.

Travel across the border in either direction is not permitted and there have been numerous reports in the media of the police strictly enforcing this rule.

Climbing wall facilities remain closed.

Guidance for Wales can be found here.

Northern Ireland

Since 26 December, Northern Ireland has been under tight restrictions, which will be in place for 6 weeks with a review after 4 weeks.

People are advised to avoid all unnecessary travel, and only individual or household outdoor exercise is permitted.

Climbing wall facilities remain closed.

Guidance for NI can be found here.

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