Using parks and greenspaces

Scotland is now in phase two of the transition out of lockdown.

The current guidance is that parks and greenspaces are open for unrestricted exercise with physical distancing. People are permitted to use public outdoor spaces for recreational purposes, for example to sit in a public space or sunbathe in a park.

A household not shielding can meet two other households, outside including parks and gardens, up to a suggested maximum of eight people in the group with physical distancing. Non-contact outdoor activities in the local area - such as golf, hiking, canoeing, outdoor swimming, angling are also permitted in phase two. 

The government and local authorities are still encouraging the use of local parks and greenspaces within a short distance of your home (guidance is about 5 miles) for outdoor leisure and exercise and to travel by walk, wheel and cycle where possible.

Today [29 June] Scottish Government has published the guidance: Coronavirus (COVID-19): Safer Public Spaces for Scotland - Urban Centres and Green Spaces.The guidance document focuses on design principles for safer urban centres and greenspaces in Scotland during the coronavirus crisis. It contains information and examples of interventions that may be undertaken by owners and operators of public spaces to keep people safe, as restrictions relax.

Scottish Government has also published guidance on opening public and customer toilets

Playgrounds, public gardens and sports pitches

Stand-alone facilities or communal spaces within parks such as playgrounds and sports pitches will be opened from Mon 29 June along with public gardens. 

The Scottish Government's Phase 2: staying safe and protecting others (physical distancing) guidance states:

Outdoor sports courts are permitted to open. Participants should maintain strict physical distancing at all times when using outdoor sports courts.

Outdoor play parks and outdoor gym equipment can open, but strict physical distancing should be followed. The virus can be transmitted when you touch surfaces.

Children should not use a play park if it is crowded. If children use a play park they should be extra careful about hand hygiene and everyone should use an alcohol based hand rub (hand sanitiser) immediately before and after using the play equipment.

Play park owners or operators should take appropriate steps to ensure the safety of equipment and minimise the risk of transmission through users touching contaminated surfaces. This includes:

  • pre-opening checks ensure equipment is safe;
  • signs reinforcing the requirement for good hand hygiene and physical distancing;
  • marking out physical distancing and traffic flow where practical. It is recognised that play parks come in all shapes and sizes and for some signage may be sufficient.
  • increased litter/waste collection from bins should be arranged if appropriate.

Open facilities without staff, such as outdoor skate parks or cycle pump tracks can be used, provided physical distancing is maintained.

New guidance for those shielding

Those shielding are now able to go outdoors for exercise from 18 June. From Friday, 19 June those shielding can take part in non-contact outdoor activities and can meet one other household, in groups of no more than eight outdoors. Physical distancing and strict hygiene measures must still be followed, even if you live with those people.

For full details see the Phase 2 Update.
The Scottish Outdoor Access code has updated their guidance for the public and land managers. 

Managing parks and greenspaces 

Managing Public Parks during Covid-19
This guide produced collaboratively by CFP with input from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Local Government Association, National Trust, APSE, the Midlands Parks Forum and parks practitioners relates to guidance issued for England, but will be of interest to Scottish local authorities and greenspace managers. It is intended to help local authorities and other organisations who manage urban and country parks and wider greenspaces to think through how sites can be managed as lockdown restrictions ease. greenspace scotland will be working with the Park Managers Forum to prepare similar guidance for Scottish parks to complement guidance and advice developed by Scottish Government as we progress through Scotland’s Route Map.
COVID-19 Recovery Planning Guidance for countryside managers
Given the impact of COVID-19 on the sector, the Visitor Safety Group has decided to make this guidance freely available. The guidance seeks to cover the key areas all landowners and countryside managers will need to consider and assess when re-opening and managing outdoor public access sites / attractions and associated indoor spaces during COVID-19. It should be underpinned by the regulations, guidance and advice from the relevant Government.

Do you have any good practice examples about how parks and greenspaces are being managed differently and to support safe use of parks and social distancing? If yes, please do send us details [email protected]