UFRC Covid 19 Update
On the 29th June, 2020 the Northern Ireland Executive announced a further easing of the Covid-19 restrictions on society in Northern Ireland.
From the 30th June, 2020 gatherings of up to 30 people outdoors are permitted.
The increase in the number of people allowed to gather outdoors from10 to 30 will undoubtedly help clubs in the planning of walks. However, when announcing the change the First and Deputy First Ministers emphasised the continued existence of the Covid-19 virus in Northern Ireland and the need to maintain social distancing at 2 meters.
While this further change in the restrictions will encourage clubs and groups of walkers to go walking in the hills it is important to be aware of the constraints and public health advice still in place and to take them into account when planning a walk and in the hills.
Despite the risks to themselves Mountain Rescue teams have continued to operate and have been called out a number of times to assist walkers in difficulty. In its post on the 17th May, 2020 Mountain Rescue Ireland (MRI) reminded walkers that in addition to the usual challenges inherent in search and rescue in upland and mountainous areas the possibility of infection increases the risk to which the volunteer rescuers and the patients are exposed. MRI recommends that outdoor activities should be:
- Of short duration
- Completed within daylight hours
- Undertaken in low risk areas, and
- Consistent with the requirements to observe social distancing.
Those of you who have been in the hills since restrictions on travel for exercise were lifted will have noticed how busy the roads and car parks have been. Social distancing means that car sharing is currently only permissible by individuals from the same household and will potentially result in club walks adding to traffic volumes and pressure on parking areas close the beginning of walks. When planning a walk:
- Try to avoid the most popular areas.
- Have some alternative parking area in mind in case the car park you have chosen is full when you arrive.
- Please do not park in a manner that gets in the way of local residents, farmers or the emergency services.
If possible it may be worth considering holding walks for weekdays rather than weekends.
When you are walking:
- Maintain good hygiene; use sanitiser if you have to touch hard surfaces such as stiles or gates.
- Ensure social distancing within your group and when passing other walkers on paths.
- Avoid physical contact with other walkers’ equipment such as poles or maps.
We all have a social responsibility to ensure the transmission of Covid-19 is minimised. The observance of these guidelines, in addition to normal good practice, will ensure hill walkers play their part.
Facilities in the countryside are gradually reopening. You will be able to find details of open toilet facilities in Country and Forest Parks by visiting the relevant Council or Forestry site.
This advice will be updated when the Northern Ireland Executive next amends the Covid-19 restrictions.
The following information will also be of relevance:
In light of the developing situation the HSC have published the following advice:
Further information and advice from the HSC on Covid-19 which can be found at:
This advice is updated regularly and sets out recommended best practise in the current circumstances.
This webpage was last updated on 1 July 2020 at 9pm.