Aberdeenshire Council has urged communities to ‘stay local’ during the initial phase of the lockdown being eased.
Communities across Aberdeenshire are being asked to follow the latest public health advice following the publication of the Scottish Government’s phased approach this week.
The route map gives details of a gradual four-phase move out of the lockdown.
Nicola Sturgeon announced today that a number of changes will be in place from tomorrow, giving people more flexibility to meet up with family and friends and greater opportunities for outdoor leisure and activities.
One household will be permitted to meet up with another household outdoors, in small numbers of up to eight as a guideline, including in gardens, but with physical distancing in place.
People will also be permitted to travel short distances for outdoor leisure and exercise, however the advice is that individuals should stay within five miles of their local community and to travel on foot or cycle where possible.
Non-contact outdoor activities in the area such as golf, hiking, canoeing, outdoor swimming and angling will be allowed.
Councillor Jim Gifford is urging residents to stick to the guidelines during the easing of the lockdown.Council Leader, councillor Jim Gifford, said: “While the easing of the lockdown arrangements is to be welcomed, it is vital that we ensure we all fully understand the guidelines before we emerge back into our communities.
“The route map clearly sets out that residents will be allowed to travel only very short distances for outdoor leisure and exercise purposes – and by means of walking, wheel and cycle wherever feasibly possible.
“What we do not want to see is an influx of visitors across the Aberdeenshire countryside causing congestion at our country parks, woodlands, uplands and coastal areas and the wider road network.
“Many of these very popular attractions and trails have pinch points which could seriously jeopardise physical-distancing.
“Furthermore, with the toilets we operate at many of these outdoor attractions remaining closed and with retail outlets largely doing the same, this could cause many people discomfort if they travel too far from home.”
Meanwhile, Aberdeenshire Council’s Outdoor Access teams and Countryside Ranger Service are stressing the need for residents to behave responsibly if they do venture out.
They are reminding residents to consider rural communities, popular recreation sites and the health and emergency services by abiding to physical distancing and making responsible choices.
Walkers are advised to respect requests and signs to avoid farmyards and fields with pregnant or young livestock, crops and other busy working areas.
Dogs must be kept on leads when on farmland and Scottish Government guidance for owners of companion animals and livestock indicates that dogs from self-isolating households should be kept on a lead at all times, avoiding contact with other people or animals.
The rights of responsible access to most land in Scotland, including paths, tracks and waterways, continues to apply during this time.
Access rights depend on responsible behaviour, both by the public and land managers which is particularly important in the current situation, when many people are accessing new and unfamiliar local areas for their daily outdoor exercise.
It has also been stressed that individuals should not light fires or BBQs in the countryside as there is a high fire risk due to the dry and hot conditions.
For further information on rights and responsibilities in Scotland’s outdoors, contact the local Outdoor Access team at firstname.lastname@example.org