AN article recommending the UK’s top 20 countryside walks for social distancing has attracted criticism after including beauty spots in Wales and Scotland despite their ongoing lockdowns.
In England this week people were told they could travel as far they wish from their homes for exercise – but the UK Government’s own document explaining the relaxed measures explains people must respect the different rules in place in the devolved nations.
Scotland’s First Minister warned this week that people travelling to Scotland for anything other than essential purposes could be “in breach of the law”.
READ MORE: Boris Johnson: English residents not to visit devolved nations
Here in Scotland you must stay at home and only leave for essential purposes such as to buy food, get medicines or to help a vulnerable person. People can go outside for exercise more than once per day but they must remain close to their own home.
The Telegraph’s article, which suggests walks in West Dunbartonshire and Dumfries and Galloway in Scotland, as well as in Powys in Wales, does not make clear that travelling to these locations could be considered an illegal act.
It explains the rules that still must be adhered to in relation to social distancing and shielding, but goes on to say “there are unofficial rules too”.
It goes on: “Police and politicians in the Lake District have urged would-be day-trippers from other areas to stay away; Cumbria has some of the highest infection rates in the UK. People in other tourist destinations, such as Cornwall, have likewise begged outsiders not to visit; the devolved governments of Wales, Scotland, and (at time of writing) Northern Ireland have not yet followed Westminster’s lead in permitting people to make longer driving trips.
READ MORE: The Independent recommends Highland walks despite lockdown
“So it is probably best not to treat the updated guidance as carte blanche to go wherever you like: be safe, be kind, and stick to areas relatively close to you, even if you don’t believe you carry the virus, and even if you think you’re unlikely to come close to anyone else. There is no harm in waiting a few weeks longer, especially when it comes to non-English places.”
Why is @Telegraph today advertising multiple walks just across border in #Wales #Scotland + suggesting that @WelshGovernment @scotgov advice is “unofficial” or somehow optional? It isn’t. If there’s “no harm in waiting a few weeks longer” why did they publish today? #StayAtHome pic.twitter.com/DFvwaBuFAi
— Stephen Doughty MP (@SDoughtyMP) May 16, 2020
Welsh Labour MP Stephen Doughty expressed concern over the guidance. He wrote: “Why is @Telegraph today advertising multiple walks just across border in Wales and Scotland and suggesting that @WelshGovernment @Scotgov advice is ‘unofficial’ or somehow optional? It isn’t.
“If there’s ‘no harm waiting a few weeks longer’ why did they publish today? #StayAtHome.”
The post was retweeted by SNP MP Stewart McDonald.
The Telegraph has been approached for comment.
The story comes after both The Guardian and The Independent faced criticism for suggesting people would now be able to visit beauty spots in Scotland.