Guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): advice on accessing green spaces safely

Advice on using green spaces and protecting yourself and others from coronavirus.

This guidance sets out rules you need to follow from 12 April.

You can meet in a group of 6 or a larger group of any size from up to 2 households (including their support bubbles, if eligible) outdoors.

You can meet in all outdoor settings permitted to open, including private gardens.

Travelling to green spaces

You should minimise travel where possible. This means you should:

  • avoid making unnecessary journeys
  • combine trips where possible

You can stay overnight in a campsite, caravan, second home, or other self-contained accommodation

If you need to travel, walk or cycle where possible, and plan ahead to avoid busy times and routes if you use public transport. This will allow you to practise social distancing while you travel.

If you need to use public transport, you should follow the safer travel guidance.

You must not share a car with anyone from outside your household or your support bubble, unless your journey is for an exempt reason. See the guidance on car sharing.

Before travelling, you should check if facilities are open to visitors (for example, car parks and toilets). Do not park on verges or block gates. This restricts access for other vehicles.

Sports facilities

Outdoor sports facilities, such as tennis courts, basketball courts and swimming pools, may open for use in groups of 6 or larger of any size from up to 2 households (including their support bubbles, if eligible).

You can take part in formally organised outdoor sports with any number of people.

You should maintain social distancing at all times, staying 2 metres apart from anyone who is not in your household or support bubble.

Attractions

Animal attractions (such as zoos, safari parks, aquariums, animal attractions at a farm, wildlife centres) may reopen their outdoor attraction subject to social distancing and the rules on outdoor gatherings. Indoor displays at these attractions must remain closed.

Indoor attractions at venues (such as botanical gardens, heritage homes and landmarks) must remain closed, though outdoor grounds of these premises can stay open.

Visitor centres at these attractions must also remain closed, but this does not include toilets or shops where they can be accessed separately to the indoor attractions. Read safer working guidance for shops and branches.

Those operating toilets should follow guidance for safer public places during coronavirus (COVID-19).

The government has set out plans to ease restrictions on businesses and venues in the roadmap set out in COVID-19 Response - Spring 2021. You can find out more on reopening businesses and venues in England.

Respect other people and protect the natural environment

Read signs and respect the measures that local authorities and site management have put in place to help ensure social distancing.

When in the countryside, follow the Countryside Code. You should:

  • take all of your litter home
  • keep dogs under effective control and on a lead when you are around farm animals - read further guidance for pet owners
  • leave gates as you find them and follow instructions on signs
  • keep to paths and follow signs where they suggest alternative routes
  • check if facilities are open to visitors (for example, car parks and toilets)

Wildlife, including nesting birds, may have moved into new areas. Land managers may have provided extra protection for wildlife. Be vigilant and comply with these protective measures so that you do not disrupt the local wildlife.

If you own or manage land

You should read:

You may need to take a different approach if you’re managing land in the countryside.

You should clean gates and stiles, if possible.

You can display signs at access points to remind the public to take hygiene precautions and wash hands regularly.

You should consider tying gates open if it is safe to do so, so that walkers do not need to touch the gate.

You do not have the legal right to block or obstruct public rights of way or open access land. However, where large numbers of people are using such routes, you may:

  • temporarily display notices to encourage the public to use alternative routes that do not pass through gardens, farmyards or schools
  • offer an alternative route around gardens and farmyards where it’s safe to do so - you must gain permission from relevant landowners and make sure the route is safe for users and livestock, and you must maintain the original right of way
  • put up signs warning people where footpaths are narrow and it is difficult to follow social distancing guidelines
Published 1 June 2020
Last updated 12 April 2021 + show all updates
  1. Updated with what you can and cannot do from 12 April.

  2. Updated with what you can and cannot do from 29 March.

  3. Added a link to the Ordnance Surveys Getoutside website to the travelling to green spaces section of the page.

  4. Allotments removed from the list of outdoor sports venues that must remain closed.

  5. Updated guidance with new rules that apply from 8 March.

  6. Updated guidance following the 4 January announcement of a national lockdown.

  7. Updated with guidance on accessing green spaces and overnight stays in tier 4.

  8. Updated with guidance from 2 December 2020.

  9. Updated with guidance on accessing green spaces during lockdown.

  10. Updated with links to local COVID-19 alert levels.

  11. Updated guidance on meeting other people.

  12. Updated with changes that apply from 4 July.

  13. Updated with guidance on reopening of animal attractions.

  14. Clarified guidance for zoos and other businesses that keep animals (not normally domesticated in England) for exhibition to the public.

  15. First published.