Public Urged to Stay Local if Getting Active Outside

23rd March 2020

 

Guidance has been updated as of 24/03/2020. Read about the new advice here.  

Outdoor Recreation Northern Ireland is urging the public to stay local if getting active outside during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Outdoor Recreation Northern Ireland has joined a group of 35 leading national outdoor activity, tourism, nature, health and rescue organisations, to come together to back the Prime Minister’s call for the public to behave responsibly while exercising outside. In a joint statement, the group offers support to the Government and advises the nation on how to stay active safely during the COVID-19 outbreak.

During the daily COVID-19 news conference on Sunday, Boris Johnson stated:

“It is very important for people’s mental and physical wellbeing that they should be able to get out and exercise if they possibly can, and many, many people do not have access to private green spaces…That’s why parks, open spaces are so absolutely crucial for our country and for our society, but when we do that we have to do it responsibly.”

He warned the public that they need to follow social distancing guidelines, or the Government will be forced to restrict access to more open spaces.

Outdoor Recreation Northern Ireland is a not-for-profit organisation with the vision to ‘Creating a happier, healthier society where enjoyment and appreciation of the outdoors improves wellbeing.’

“We exist to make it easier for people to responsibly enjoy the outdoors and never before has the word responsibly been more important.  We therefore endorse the industry statement and our keen to urgently communicate as widely as possible” stressed Dr. Caro-Lynne Ferris, Executive Director, Outdoor Recreation Northern Ireland

“It is pleasing to see many Councils are taking steps to close play parks, hubs such as these simply don’t allow for adequate social distancing. I also commend the National Trust for closing their properties. I’ve read reports and viewed photographs of outdoor spaces such as beaches and popular forests attracting as many visitors this weekend as a busy bank holiday weekend. This cannot go on. People need to exercise common sense when selecting where and when to go outdoors.” added Dr. Ferris.

The joint industry statement reads:

“In this time of national crisis, when almost all forms of indoor entertainment and social gatherings are severely restricted, a balance can be struck. As the Prime Minister outlined, we must preserve the health of the vulnerable and restrict the spread of COVID-19, while doing all that we can to maintain the mental, social and physical health of the nation. We endorse this approach and encourage the public to strictly follow social distancing guidance while exercising outside, close to home.

“A nation in lockdown could lead to enhanced anxiety, depression, social unrest, mental and physical ill health, and social poverty. In contrast, carefully managed local exercise, inside or outside, will provide welcome active release for individuals and families feeling trapped. Getting into the outdoors sensibly very close to our own homes now, will make it easier for all of us to sustain other official guidelines and preserve the health of the vulnerable in the longer term.

“Fully respecting the need for the ill and vulnerable to remain self isolated, for those healthy individuals and families with no symptoms, getting active outside remains one of the very few tools left to fight the social impact of this disease.

The 35 national outdoor organisations advocate the following:

  • Enjoy active outdoor recreation in your local area, while practicing good social distancing at all times
  • Do not travel to popular tourist areas and reduce the risk of groups gathering in one place
  • Stay close to home – consider low risk, familiar activities in local areas, such as a local walk or run.
  • Avoid public transport and social gatherings – keep active by travelling on foot or bike
  • Outdoor play and learning opportunities that reflect government guidelines are available to children, including those of key workers attending school.

Sufficient areas of the outdoors remain open, so if you can get outside close to home while taking sensible precautions, then please do so. Now, possibly more than ever, staying active is vital to everyone’s physical and mental wellbeing.”

Full Joint Industry Statement.

Northern Ireland is fortunate to have an abundance of local green spaces – there are plenty of options available on both WalkNI.com and OutMoreNI.com.

It is recognised the COVID-19 outbreak is a constantly evolving situation, advice and guidance may change in line with Government guidelines.

For further information please contact:

Kerry Kirkpatrick

Outdoor Recreation Northern Ireland

07596089015

kerry@outdoorrecreationni.com