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 17 May.

A new coronavirus (COVID-19) variant is spreading in some parts of England. There may be additional advice for your area. Find out what you need to do.

The guidance on meeting family and friends has been updated.

COVID-19 spreads mainly among people who are in close contact (within 2 metres). The further away you can keep from other people, and the less time you spend in close contact with them, the less likely you are to catch COVID-19 and pass it on to others. Close contact, including hugging, increases the risk of spreading COVID-19.

Most restrictions on meeting people outdoors have been lifted, however gatherings must not exceed 30 people unless covered by a legal exemption.

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

Sports facilities

Outdoor sports facilities, such as tennis courts, basketball courts and swimming pools, may open for use in groups of up to 30.

You can take part in formally organised indoor or outdoor sports with any number of people. This must be organised by a business, charity or public body. The organiser must take the required precautions, including the completion of a risk assessment.

You should avoid contact in training and, for some sports, avoid contact in all activities. Read the guidance on what avoiding contact means for your sport.

You should follow the guidance:

Travelling to green spaces

You can stay overnight in a campsite, caravan, second home, boat, hotel, bed and breakfast or other accommodation.

You may stay overnight in holiday accommodation in groups of up to 6, or larger groups if everyone present is from 2 households (including support bubbles), unless a legal exemption applies. Read guidance on hotels and other guest accommodation.

You should continue to plan ahead and travel safely. If you need to travel, walk or cycle where possible, and plan ahead to avoid busy times and routes if you use public transport. You should follow the safer travel guidance and 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.

Attractions

Indoor and outdoor animal attractions (such as zoos, safari parks, aquariums, animal attractions at a farm, wildlife centres) and venues such as botanical gardens, heritage homes and landmarks can open with COVID-secure measures in place. This includes visitor centres.

Those operating toilets should follow guidance for safer public places during 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 restrictions on 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 18 May 2021 + show all updates
  1. Updated with what you can and cannot do from 17 May.

  2. Updated with what you can and cannot do from 12 April.

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

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

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

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

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

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

  9. Updated with guidance from 2 December 2020.

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

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

  12. Updated guidance on meeting other people.

  13. Updated with changes that apply from 4 July.

  14. Updated with guidance on reopening of animal attractions.

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

  16. First published.