*Last updated 12pm, 05 January 2021
On Monday 04 January 2021, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced a new national lockdown for all of mainland Scotland to begin on Tuesday 05 January. These new measures are expected to apply until at least the end of January. Island communities will remain in Level 3 of the Scottish Governments 4-level tiered system.
Outdoor recreation is still permitted however there are now restrictions on travel and on the numbers of people allowed to meet. Only two people aged 12 or over from two households are allowed to meet outdoors (children aged under 11 are exempt). Additionally, cross border travel is not permitted, except for essential purposes.
The Scottish Government guidance suggests a list of examples of reasonable excuses to go out, including:
- local outdoor recreation, sport or exercise, 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.
Access during the Covid-19 pandemic
The right of responsible access continues to apply to most land and inland water in Scotland, subject to responsible behaviour in line with the Scottish Outdoor Access Code (SOAC).
Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham made a statement on 09 April, detailing what is deemed responsible access under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 during the Covid-19 pandemic. The statement in full can be read here and some key points include advice for members of the public to:
- Stay local – please do not travel in your car to take exercise; please make use of the paths, open spaces and quiet roads in your own local area
- Respect the health and safety of farmers and others working the land – please follow all reasonable requests and signs to avoid particular areas, such as farmyards, fields with pregnant or young livestock, and other busy working areas
- Avoid contact – try to avoid touching surfaces and if possible plan a route that does not require you to open gates
This Ministerial Statement was closely followed by more detailed guidance, for both members of the public and land managers, by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH). We fed into this guidance which can be read here and includes the following additional points:
- Land managers can use signs to make reasonable requests to the public to help them avoid certain areas, for example fields with young livestock.
- SNH have provided a template sign that can be placed in appropriate areas and downloadable images to promote the guidance on social media. The SNH website also has a range of template signs that can be used for more specific issues.
- Access rights do not apply to farmyards unless there is a core path or right of way.
We are continuing to liaise with the Scottish Government, MSP’s, Scottish Natural Heritage, the National Access Forum (NAF) and other NAF members on these matters and will continue to do so on your behalf.
We have a dedicated members information sheet on Access during Covid-19 which can be downloaded here.
We have designed a range of access signage. Four signs have been developed to cover issues relating to respecting the environment, and information for dog walkers. The signs are available to download here.
To raise an issue or to ask for further information, please contact our Policy Assistant Emma Steel.