Public rights of way

Coronavirus (Covid-19) update

The Government has issued guidance which makes it clear that public rights of way currently remain unaffected by the Covid-19 epidemic. However, in very limited circumstances where large numbers of people are using such routes, landowners may:

  • tie gates open if it is safe to do so, so that walkers do not need to touch the gate
  • offer an alternative route around gardens and farmyards only where it is safe to do so (where permission has been gained from relevant landowners and the route is safe for users and livestock) provided that the original right of way is maintained
  • temporarily display polite notices that encourage users to respect local residents and workers by following social distancing guidelines and consider using alternative routes that do not pass through gardens, farmyards or schools

While these aren’t a lawful closure and people can make their own decision as to whether they want to continue to use the route, you should bear in mind that the landowner has taken this action because they feel there is a risk of transmission.

We would ask that everyone is mindful to people’s concerns and consider avoiding using those paths which pass through gardens and/or pass very closely to agricultural and residential properties if possible.

People should not be making special journeys to access rights of way, should practice social distancing while using them and should not congregate on them. If this is the case the police should be informed who have powers to disperse such groups.

Where residents living near public rights of way have concerns then they should exercise suitable precautions to ensure social distancing from people on the path. They may also want to regularly clean any gate latches or other surfaces on any paths across their property.