Government spokesman Michael Meacher has proposed a relaxing of access restrictions in areas away from infected areas. His speech in the commons yesterday was reported on trade website Bike Biz
“I must commend the response of the public who have been very anxious to avoid spreading the disease. But large parts of the country are not affected and people wrongly believe that the whole countryside is out of bounds. This has had a devastating and unnecessary impact on many of the businesses who depend on visitors to rural areas. The best way to help rural business is by encouraging their customers to return as quickly as possible to the many places where it is safe to do so.”
“So the Task Force has agreed on a number of actions to achieve this.
“First, last Friday we issued new guidance to the public on what they can do safely in the countryside – and what they must not do. The basic message is that the public should stay away from livestock and their pastures, but that there are still plenty of things to do and places to visit in the country without risking spreading the disease.”
“Second an increasing number of rural properties will be opening to the public again very shortly. English Heritage are announcing today that over 200 properties will be open from 1 April. The National Trust will announce shortly that they will be opening around 150 properties between now and 1 April. British Waterways will be reopening many of their canals starting next week. In all cases this follows a very careful in depth review agreed with MAFF.”
“Thirdly, local authorities and National Park Authorities will be considering where footpaths can be safely opened, and I hope that there will shortly be a much wider availability of footpaths for the public outside the infected areas.”
We’ll bring you more news as soon as we get it, but suggest you don’t get too excited, as councils and landowners are likely to take far longer to remove restrictions than they were to put them up.