The easing will allow travel for hillwalkers and other outdoor fans. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

The easing will allow travel for hillwalkers and other outdoor fans. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Mountaineering Scotland has welcomed the Scottish Government’s relaxation of lockdown rules which will lift the requirement to stay local for outdoor exercise.

First Minster Nicola Sturgeon said the SNP administration intends to lift the restriction on Friday 3 July.

Until then, outdoor enthusiasts will be expected to take their exercise, including hillwalking and mountaineering, within their local area, with guidance to limit this to five miles.

Scotland and Wales are the only home nations to have retained the necessity to limit travel for exercise. Northern Ireland has no travel limit and England removed travel restrictions for exercise in May.

Stuart Younie, chief executive of Mountaineering Scotland, which represents almost 15,000 walkers and climbers, and acts as a voice for the sector in Scotland, said: “Today’s announcement, and the plans to bring forward a relaxation in travel for leisure is a positive step and one that will be welcomed by our members and outdoor enthusiasts across Scotland.

“We hope that more people will now be able to enjoy a return to the hills and mountains but continue to play their part and stay safe as they have done over the last few months.”

The organisation reminded people that this is not yet a return to normal, and that distancing and hygiene guidelines must still be observed.

Mr Younie said: “We all need to remain Covid aware. Think where you are going and consider avoiding places you know are likely to be busy and be sensitive to the concerns of rural communities.

“The sacrifices we have all been making have helped us get this far in a return to the hills, but the virus is still out there so we would encourage anyone heading to the hills to do so with this in mind and to act responsibly.”

Mountaineering Scotland said it will be looking in more detail at the First Minister’s statement and updating the guidance for hillwalkers and climbers on its website.

Ms Sturgeon said in her statement on Wednesday: “Although the tourism sector will not open fully until the 15 July, we intend that self-contained holiday accommodation – for example holiday cottages and lodges, or caravans where there are no shared services – can open from 3 July.”

The Welsh Government said it would lift the requirement to stay local on 6 July if conditions still allow it, so people will be able to travel to attractions across Wales.

It will also review the self-contained accommodation regulations on 9 July.

Until 6 July, members of the public will still not be able to travel to the Welsh mountains and hills if they are beyond their local area.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “I know the wider tourism industry is keen to re-open and to salvage some of this summer’s season. I am therefore signalling owners of self-contained accommodation should use the next three weeks to prepare to re-open, working with their local communities.

“But I want people to know coronavirus has not gone away. We have some headroom to make this package of changes to the regulations, which will be introduced in a phased and cautious way in Wales.

“Many aspects of daily life in Wales will be moving into the amber zone in our traffic light system. But we all need to continue to take steps to protect ourselves from the virus – that means working from home wherever possible; avoiding unnecessary travel; only meeting with one other household outdoors; maintaining social distancing and washing your hands often. It may also mean wearing a face covering in some situations.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that, in England, campsites, caravan sites and other accommodation providers will be able to open from 4 July, provided they implement measures to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.

Overnight stays away from the home area have been banned in England, with some police forces issuing fines to people found camping in the Lake District, Yorkshire Dales and other areas.

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