Wales Lockdown Part 3: what it means for climbers and hillwalkers

Posted by Elfyn Jones on 19/02/2021
Snowdon in winter. Photo: Shutterstock

Late on Saturday December 18th, Welsh Government unexpectedly announced that all of Wales would enter an Alert Level 4 Full Lockdown with immediate effect and for an indefinite period. What does this mean for climbers, hill-walkers and mountaineers? Important updates added on 29 January.

Update From Welsh Government Review of Feb 19th 

The First Minister has announced minor changes to the current lockdown measures that have some impact for sport and physical activity.

Wales remains at Alert Level 4, and everyone is required to "stay at home" unless they have a reasonable excuse. Exercise is a reasonable excuse, but there are limits on what can be done.

The main changes for sport and physical activity announced are: 

  • As of Saturday February 20th, four people from a maximum of two households will be able to meet outdoors for exercise.
  • Children under 11 do not count towards this total.
  • Exercise should still start and end at home, so both households will need to live in close proximity to each other.
  • Please remember, "household bubbling" is not currently permitted, so this is strictly two households. 
  • No specific form of exercise is prohibited, but the availability of venues imposes practical limits, as does the inability to travel by car to begin exercise.
  • Disabled people and those with limited mobility can travel to a more suitable location for exercise.

Additionally, the First Minister indicated that Sport Wales will begin to expand the numbers of Elite athletes permitted to train in the coming weeks.

The First Minister has indicated that the process of "reopening" the economy is likely to begin during March. From the detail of his statement and responses to questions, this is likely to prioritise outdoor activity and activity for under 18s first. 

The next review will be announced on the 12 March, where we expect the current "stay at home" order to end, enabling travel for outdoor exercise once again. 

  • In seperate new regulations, Welsh Government have introduced powers to close locations or areas of countryside to prevent risk of transmission of the virus due to large gatherings of people.  Brecon Beacons National Park Authority has used these powers to close off  some key areas of open land and rights of way within the National Park. 

Despite the announcement of a full national lockdown in England on January 4th, the regulations in Wales are still different to the rest of the UK in some aspects, especially around travel and excercise.

In brief, this is a summary of the current restrictions:

  • No person may, without a reasonable excuse, leave the place where they are living or remain away from that place. Exercise is one of those reasonable excuses.
  • Exercise can only be carried out directly from your home and done alone or with members of your own household. Driving to a location to exercise, even a short distance is not allowed by regulations. The only exception to this is for those who need to travel to a suitable local location due to a physical or mental health issue as defined by Section 6 of the Equality Act. There are now numerous reports of Police forces across Wales enforcing this regulation, including issuing fixed penalty notices and even reporting on summons for court appearances to individuals who have travelled to honeypots to excercise (unlimited fines and a criminal record if proven guilty at court). 
  • The BMC is not aware of any specific closures of any part of the countryside or honeypot areas other than parts of the Brecon Beacons National Park, however many car parks in most honeypot areas have been closed, as travel to excercise in those areas is prohibited.
  • A person living in a single household can form an exclusive extended household with one other household and be counted as part of that household and may travel to and exercise from that household only.
  • There are no limits or restrictions on the type of exercise or activities that are permitted but the guidance states that hazardous activities should be avoided to reduce pressures on NHS and emergency services. 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.
  • Any travel to or from or within Wales is prohibited by regulation (apart from the reasonable excuse clauses, such as travel for work, medical purposes, education, etc.).
  • All holiday accommodation must close – this includes hotels, holiday cottages, bunk houses, climbing huts and campsites.  
  • Travel in Wales without a reasonable excuse is an offence while alert level 4 restrictions are in place. The Welsh Governerment guidance state that "Travelling into, out of or within Wales to visit, check, inspect, or stay in a second home or holiday home is not a reasonable excuse". This includes climbing huts and other non commercial premises. 
  • Meeting with any other persons from outside your household, even outdoors, for any purpose not defined as a “reasonable excuse” in the regulations is prohibited. From Feb 20th up to four people from two seperate households can meet outdoors for excericse and this is regarded a "reasonable excuse"  but that excercise must start and finish from the place you are living. 
  • All non-essential shops and businesses, including leisure facilities and gyms (including climbing walls) must close.

According to Welsh Government, these restrictions will remain in place indefinitely, until infection rates fall, and despite being reviewed every three weeks, the BMC understand that these restrictions are likely to be in place until at least the next review due on March 12th.  Along with many other organisations and businesses, the BMC is pressing the Welsh Government to look again at a more regional approach as infection rates in many parts of Wales do not meet the Welsh Government’s own criteria for entering Alert Level 4. When the restrictions are eased, it will only initially be to Alert Level 3, and the BMC along with Association of British Climbing Walls and the Wales Outdoor Alliance are lobbying hard at the most senior level of government to ensure that climbing walls will be able to reopen at that time.

More reading

Covid Christmas: What do the new government rules mean for Climbing and Hill Walking in England?

The Welsh Government updated (Dec 18th 2020) and extensive regulations are The Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No. 5) (Wales) Regulations 2020.  The current regulations as they apply to Alert Level 4 are mainly covered  in Schedule 4, which is listed from page 83 onwards.

Guidance notes and Frequently Asked Questions on Alert Level 4 on the Welsh Government Coronavirus pages.

The Police College and National Police Chiefs Council Guidance on enforcement of the regulations in Wales may also be useful.


More FAQs about the BMC and Covid-19

🌳 Can I go climbing / hill walking in England? Here's what you can and can't do in the 3rd Lockdown (January 2021)

🌳 What's the situation for climbing and hill walking in Wales? Read our full January update

😷 When and will the walls reopen? In England and Wales they're now closed for the National Lockdown. Read our walls article

✈️ I have a travel insurance question! Here's the FAQs

🏡 Do you have any advice for clubs and huts? Check out our latest clubs, meets and huts update

🛒 Is the BMC shop open? Yes - it is and BMC members get 10% off!

 

We want to say thanks to every BMC member supporting us through the Coronavirus crisis.

From weekly Facebook Lives and GB Climbing home training videos, to our access team working to re-open the crags and fight for your mountain access, we're making through with your support.

If you liked what we are doing, then tell your friends about us: www.thebmc.co.uk/join


« Back

Post a comment Print this article

This article has been read 406 times

TAGS

Click on the tags to explore more

RELATED ARTICLES

Clubs, Huts, Meets and current Covid-19 Restrictions
8
Clubs, Huts, Meets and current Covid-19 Restrictions

With government rules, regulations and guidance changing regularly it can be difficult for clubs to keep up with what they are allowed to do. This article summarises the BMC’s understanding of the constraints on club meets and access to huts, based on information available at the time and date of publication. Please remember to check for local changes that may affect your club or hut.
Read more »

Covid-19 and reopening huts
2
Covid-19 and reopening huts

Mountain huts were first closed at the start of the first lockdown in March 2020. At various points since then huts have been permitted to reopen. The BMC wants to support clubs and other hut operators who are reopening them over the coming months.
Read more »

Gareth Pierce obituary
0
Gareth Pierce obituary

The BMC is sad to announce the unexpected passing of Gareth Pierce, former Chair of the BMC and dedicated volunteer, who became unwell while walking Aran Fawddwy mountain in southern Snowdonia on Saturday, 3 July.
Read more »

Post a Comment

Posting as Anonymous Community Standards
3000 characters remaining
Submit
Your comment has been posted below, click here to view it
Comments are currently on | Turn off comments
5
Anonymous User
23/12/2020
The welsh guidance on Level 4 states (https://gov.wales/business-closures-alert-level-4#section-58509)
"Maintenance of premises
All services on this list, whether or not required to close, can be accessed by the site owners or managers, or people authorised by them, for the purpose of maintenance, repairs or other work to ensure readiness to reopen at a point where this is permitted."
This appears to contradict the bullet point in the article:
"Travel to carry out essential maintenance of such facilities is also prohibited under Alert Level 4 Regulations."
Anonymous User
01/01/2021
Whilst it is sad that people cannot travel to Eryri, pkease note that it’s residents live under these restrictions too. I live in Capel Curig but cannot travel to Tanygrisiau to meet with my family or to go for exercise. Inagine my annoyance when undertaking my daily exercise door to door, I come across people from Merseyside, Bolton, Chester, Rhyl, Rhos in Sea, London, Anglesey, Portsmouth etc.... it is not a game, you are not special, it is a pandemic!!! I have now stopped going out on my usual paths ( and dogs....oyt them on a lead for heaven’s sake abd take yoyr plastic dog poi bags away to a bin... another story another time!)
The impact on business is awful but it WILL continue unless people will adhere to Wales’ strict regulations. You have a regional / tiered system in England where some areas are ‘let loose’ - it does not work, see London and the south east of England right now. Wales’ worst problems were in the south of the country, now it is spreading. Stay away, stay still, be patient. I can’t go to yoyr places, you can’t come to mine fir now! The mountains are not going anywhere, they’ll be gere when you are able to come back!
Anonymous User
05/01/2021
I do not think the BMC should be pressing for regional application of restrictions. In England we have seen Covid move from infected area to the next area as people crisscross the borders. Also it creates confusion. Wales has got it right. It is clear and precise and only marred by the covidiocy of the few who champion ‘freedom’ even if the might lead to someone’s death, or the either disbelieve or don’t understand.
The longer we faff about the longer we will be kept away from our friends and the countryside, crags etc.
Pete Clarke Swansea.
Anonymous User
07/01/2021
No BMC should not be pressing for regional tiers. Yes Gwynedd has currently low rates but we saw a delay in our spike last time. Plus we are one Health Board and NE especially Wrexham have some of highest rates in UK. YG will be getting overspill and we’ve got what 6 ITU beds?!!
Anonymous User
28/01/2021
Hello – I wondered if others are as despairing as me about welsh government regulations around travel to exercise?

At the moment, exercise must start and end at home. We are not permitted to travel by car to exercise. At the same time, we are advised that the main risk of transmission is social interaction, especially indoors, and that this must be minimised.

So – it would be helpful if the welsh government could explain why driving a short distance (say, 10 miles) alone and then walking in the fresh air of the countryside alone is banned. Instead, we are obliged to walk from our homes where, by definition in towns and villages, most of us will encounter many more people and there will be more social interaction, hence covid risk. Surely it is better to spread out in the wide expanse of welsh countryside?

To me and many others, the welsh government position is not only damaging to physical and mental well-being, but is actually counter-productive in that it produces more social interaction when exercising. For those of us who live to be in the countryside the current restrictions are deeply depressing and utterly illogical.

There has been no real argument or analysis to support the welsh government position. Simply the assertion that we must “stay home to protect lives”. The only credible argument against permitting limited travel might be that one could have a car accident or a fall requiring assistance – but the risks of this are low - and one can fall when walking from the home too. Moreover, the covid-risk of this seems especially low when set against the high probability of encountering hordes of people walking along pavements from their homes.

Perhaps I am being unreasonable, but at the very least isn't it fair to ask for the reasoning and to ensure that measures are targeted, proportionate and based on a transparent risk assessment. I have tried to get a reasoned argument from welsh gvt but, unsurprisingly, have had no response.

RELATED ARTICLES

Clubs, Huts, Meets and current Covid-19 Restrictions
8

With government rules, regulations and guidance changing regularly it can be difficult for clubs to keep up with what they are allowed to do. This article summarises the BMC’s understanding of the constraints on club meets and access to huts, based on information available at the time and date of publication. Please remember to check for local changes that may affect your club or hut.
Read more »

Covid-19 and reopening huts
2

Mountain huts were first closed at the start of the first lockdown in March 2020. At various points since then huts have been permitted to reopen. The BMC wants to support clubs and other hut operators who are reopening them over the coming months.
Read more »

Gareth Pierce obituary
0

The BMC is sad to announce the unexpected passing of Gareth Pierce, former Chair of the BMC and dedicated volunteer, who became unwell while walking Aran Fawddwy mountain in southern Snowdonia on Saturday, 3 July.
Read more »

BMC MEMBERSHIP
Join 82,000 BMC members and support British climbing, walking and mountaineering. Membership only £16.97.
Read more »
BMC SHOP
Great range of guidebooks, DVDs, books, calendars and maps.
All with discounts for members.
Read more »
TRAVEL INSURANCE
Get covered with BMC Insurance. Our five policies take you from the beach to Everest.
Read more »