Can I drive somewhere to exercise or walk my dog? Lockdown rules explained

Can I drive somewhere to exercise or walk my dog? Lockdown rules explained

As social distancing measures are tightened up and life under lockdown continues, some of the rules regarding what you can and cannot do are still a bit vague.

Under new government guidance, people are allowed to go out once daily for exercise – but does this include driving to a beauty spot or park to run or walk your dog?

Here’s what you should know.

Can I drive to take my dog on a walk?

The current rules being enforced by the lockdown states that there are only four reasons you should be leaving your home:

–  One form of daily exercise (which includes walking your dog)
– Shopping for essentials
– Travelling to and from work
– To fulfil medical needs

North Yorkshire Police have announced that they will be using checkpoints to stop vehicles and ask drivers where they are going.

Assistant Chief Constable Mike Walker said: “The new and significant restrictions announced by the Prime Minister on Monday evening spell out very clearly what each and every one of us must do to save lives.

“The message is clear and the warning stark. Stay at home, save lives.”

A pamphlet handed out to drivers by the Avon and Somerset Police states: “You are entitled to exercise once daily. This should be by walking, running or cycling from your home address. You should not be driving to a location away from home to carry this out.”

With the police now being granted powers to arrest those who ignore lockdown rules, driving to a separate location to walk your dog or do some exercise is inadvisable.

Are parks closed?

In the list released by the government, it stated: “Parks will remain open only for individuals and households to exercise once a day.

“Communal spaces within parks such as playgrounds and football pitches will be closed.”

The National Trust also announced that they are closing all of their gardens and parks as well due to the spread of coronavirus.

Their statement said: “We have now closed all of our gated gardens and parks as well as our houses, cafes and shops to help restrict the spread of the coronavirus, and by the end of Tuesday 24 March, we will close all our car parks.

“We believe it is important that people do not travel, and instead stay at home and observe social distancing measures.”

What is essential travel?

You should be aware of what the government defines as “essential travel”.

After releasing the guidelines on social distancing, the government also said that people should avoid travelling unless it’s essential.

The statement reads: “Essential travel does not include visits to second homes, camp sites, caravan parks or similar, whether for isolation purposes or holidays.

“People should remain in their primary residence. Not taking these steps puts additional pressure on communities and services that are already at risk.”

(Photo: WHO)
(Photo: WHO)

Coronavirus: the facts

What is coronavirus?

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that can affect lungs and airways. It is caused by a virus called coronavirus.

What caused coronavirus?

The outbreak started in Wuhan in China in December 2019 and it is thought that the virus, like others of its kind, has come from animals.

How is it spread?

As this is such a new illness, experts still aren’t sure how it is spread. But, similar viruses are spread in cough droplets. Therefore, covering your nose and mouth when sneezing and coughing, and disposing of used tissues straight away is advised. Viruses like coronavirus cannot live outside the body for very long.

What are the symptoms?

The NHS states that the symptoms are: a dry cough, high temperature and shortness of breath – but these symptoms do not necessarily mean you have the illness. Look out for flu-like symptoms, such as aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose and a sore throat. It’s important to remember that some people may become infected but won’t develop any symptoms or feel unwell.

What precautions can be taken?

Washing your hands with soap and water thoroughly. The NHS also advises to cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze; put used tissues in the bin immediately and try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell. Also avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth unless your hands are clean.

Government advice

As of Monday 23 March the prime minister has put the UK into lockdown and instructed all citizens to stay at home. People can only leave their homes to exercise once a day, go shopping for food and medication, travel for medical needs or to care for a vulnerable person, and travel to work only if essential. Police will be able to enforce these restrictions.
All non-essential shops will close with immediate effect, as will playgrounds, places of worship and libraries. Large events or gatherings of more than two people cannot go ahead, including weddings and celebrations. Funerals can only be attended by immediate family.
Children of separated parents can go between both parents’ homes.

Anyone with a cough or cold symptoms needs to self-isolate with their entire household for 14 days.

The government has now instructed bars, restaurants, theatres and non-essential businesses to close and will review on a ‘month to month’ basis. Schools closed from Friday 20 March for the foreseeable future, and exams have been cancelled.

The over 70s or anyone who is vulnerable or living with an underlying illness are being asked to be extra careful and stay at home to self-isolate. People with serious underlying health conditions will be contacted and strongly advised to undertake “shielding” for 12 weeks.
For more information on government advice, please check their website. 

Should I avoid public places?

You should now avoid public places and any non-essential travel. Travel abroad is also being advised against for the next 30 days at least, and many European countries have closed their borders.

What should I do if I feel unwell?

Don’t go to your GP but instead look online at the coronavirus service that can tell you if you need medical help and what to do next.
Only call 111 if you cannot get help online.

When to call NHS 111

Only call NHS 111 if you can’t get help online and feel very unwell. This should be used if you feel extremely ill with coronavirus symptoms. If you have been in a country with a high risk of coronavirus in the last 14 days or if you have been in close contact with someone with the virus please use the online service.