Covid-19 Update17 min read

As you will appreciate, given the government’s advice to stay home, our office is closed until further notice. This means that our staff are working remotely and therefore it is no longer possible to reach us by telephone at the usual number, nor shall we be able to open the post. You will find plenty of information and advice on this website, and we can answer queries by email or via https://www.oss.org.uk/contact/.

 

We thank you for visiting our website and hope that you remain safe and well.

 

 

 

 

 

8 April     (scroll down for English version)

canllawiau wedi’u diweddaru gan Cyfoeth Naturiol Cymru

Canllawiau ar Hawliau Tramwy Cyhoeddus / Tir Mynediad dan y Rheoliadau Diogelu Iechyd (Cyfyngiadau Coronafeirws) (Cymru) 2020

Mewn ymateb i’r hyn a ddigwyddodd ar benwythnos y 21 a 22 Mawrth, lle welwyd nifer fawr o bobl yn ymgynnull ar lwybrau poblogaidd i dwristiaid yng Nghymru, cyflwynodd Llywodraeth Cymru ddeddfwriaeth newydd i leihau’r risg o ledaenu’r feirws Covid19. Galluogodd y ddeddfwriaeth hon gau llwybrau penodol ac ardaloedd o dir mynediad agored ar frys gan Awdurdodau Lleol, Awdurdodau Parciau Cenedlaethol, Cyfoeth Naturiol Cymru a’r Ymddiriedolaeth Genedlaethol.

 

Gosododd Rheoliadau Diogelu Iechyd (Cyfyngiadau Coronafeirws) (Cymru) 2020 ddyletswydd arnynt i gau rhai llwybrau tramwy neu dir mynediad yr oeddent yn eu hystyried yn debygol o ddenu nifer fawr o bobl ac o ganlyniad rhwystro pellhau cymdeithasol effeithiol. Roedd y dyletswyddau hefyd yn ymestyn i adolygu’r caeadau hyn a’u diwygio yn ôl yr angen.

Er hynny, mae ymarfer corff yn parhau i fod yn bwysig er lles ffisegol a meddyliol pobl, felly nid yw Llywodraeth Cymru’n dymuno peidio ag annog pobl rhag gadael eu cartrefi i gael ymarfer corff unwaith y dydd. Mae’r caeadau cyfyngedig hyn felly wedi’u targedu i osgoi gordyrru mewn mannau penodol yn unig, a dylid osgoi caeadau ar led y rhwydwaith llwybrau tramwy.

Yn dilyn y cyfyngiadau symud mae tirfeddianwyr mynegi pryder am ddefnydd mwy helaeth llwybrau tramwy ar eu tir, cynnydd yn y nifer o gŵn, a’r risg ganfyddadwy o ddod i gysylltiad â Covid19 i breswylwyr a gweithwyr fferm, yn arbennig lle mae aelodau’r teulu naill ai’n fregus a/neu’n hunan-ynysu.

I gynorthwyo i ddod i’r afael â hyn rydym wedi cyhoeddi canllaw: https://llyw.cymru/coronafeirws-covid-19-cadwn-heini-cadwn-iach-cadwn-lleol ac wedi cynyddu negeseua yn ymwneud â hamdden gyfrifol, e.e. mae’r Dirprwy Weinidog Tai a Llywodraeth Leol, Hannah Blythyn AC wedi cyhoeddi datganiad yn apelio ar bobl i fod yn gyfrifol wrth ymarfer corff yng nghefn gwlad ac yn atgoffa perchnogion cŵn o’r angen i gadw cŵn ar dennyn yn agos at dda byw.

Ystyrir bod y risg o bobl yn pasio’r coronafeirws at bobl eraill wrth ddefnyddio llwybrau tramwy cyhoeddus yn isel iawn cyn belled bod pobl yn dilyn cyfarwyddiadau’r Llywodraeth i gynnal pellhau cymdeithasol a dilyn cyngor o ran hylendid.

Nid oes gan dirfeddianwyr yr hawl gyfreithiol i rwystro neu atal hawliau tramwy cyhoeddus na thir mynediad. Er hynny, mewn amgylchiadau cyfyngedig iawn lle mae nifer fawr o bobl yn defnyddio’r fath lwybrau neu lle mae preswylwyr yn fregus neu’n hunan-ynysu, gall dirfeddianwyr ystyried y mesurau canlynol:

• codi hysbysiad cwrtais dros dro yn annog defnyddwyr i barchu preswylwyr a gweithwyr lleol drwy ddilyn canllawiau pellhau cymdeithasol ac ystyried defnyddio llwybrau amgen nad ydynt yn pasio drwy gerddi neu fuarthau.

• Noder: cais cwrtais yw hyn yn unig, ac nid oes gan dirfeddianwyr pŵer dan y Ddeddf Cefn Gwlad a Hawliau Tramwy 2000 (CROW) na’r Ddeddf Priffyrdd 1980 i gau na rhwystro hawl dramwy gyhoeddus na defnydd tir mynediad

• cynnig llwybr amgen o gwmpas gerddi a buarthau dim ond lle mae’n ddiogel i wneud hynny (mae’n rhaid ichi dderbyn caniatâd gan y tirfeddiannwr perthnasol a sicrhau fod y llwybr yn ddiogel i ddefnyddwyr a da byw) cyn belled bod yr hawl tramwy gwreiddiol yn cael ei chynnal.

Pwyntiau allweddol i’w Nodi dan y Ddeddf Cefn Gwlad a Hawliau Tramwy 2000 a’r Ddeddf Priffyrdd 1980

• Dan Adran 137 y Ddeddf Priffyrdd 1980 ac Adran 14 y CROW mae’n drosedd i rwystro teithio rhydd ar hyd hawl dramwy gyhoeddus neu Dir Mynediad.
• Mae’n drosedd dan Adran 57 y Ddeddf Parciau Cenedlaethol a Mynediad i Gefn Gwlad 1949 i godi hysbysiad sydd yn cynnwys “unrhyw ddatganiad anwir neu gamarweiniol sydd yn debygol o atal y cyhoedd rhag defnyddio” hawl tramwy.
• Mae hefyd yn drosedd dan Adran 14 CROW i ddangos arwydd sydd yn atal y cyhoedd rhag ymarfer eu hawl i ddefnyddio’r tir mynediad hwnnw
• Mae’n drosedd dan Adran 132 y Ddeddf Priffyrdd 1980 i ddangos ar arwyneb unrhyw hawl tramwy neu ar unrhyw goeden neu adeiledd o fewn yr hawl dramwy gyhoeddus unrhyw arwydd neu farc heb awdurdod.
• Gall dirfeddianwyr fod yn atebol am niwed personol dan Adran 2 y Ddeddf Atebolrwydd Meddianwyr 1984 os ydynt yn anystyriol neu’n fwriadol yn creu risg – er enghraifft drwy ddefnyddio llwybr amgen sydd yn beryglus.
Golyga hyn:
• Os bydd tirfeddiannwr yn cynnig llwybr amgen mae’n rhaid iddynt sicrhau ei fod yn ddiogel i’w ddefnyddio a bod yr hawl tramwy neu’r defnydd o dir mynediad presennol yn cael ei gynnal fel bod gan ddefnyddwyr sydd â gallu gwahanol ddewis.
• Rhaid nad yw hysbysiad yn awgrymu fod yna unrhyw amheuaeth am ddefnydd yr hawl tramwy neu ddefnydd tir mynediad presennol.

Rhaid codi’r mesurau dros dro hyn cyn gynted y bydd y mesurau pellhau cymdeithasol wedi’u hymlacio.

 

8 April

Updated guidance from Natural Resources Wales

Guidance on Public Rights of Way / Access Land under the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (Wales) Regulations 2020

In response to the events on the weekend of 21 and 22 March, when large numbers of people congregated at popular tourist routes in Wales, the Welsh Government introduced new legislation to limit the risk of spreading the Covid19 virus. This legislation enabled emergency closures of selected paths and areas of open access land by Local Authorities, National Park Authorities, National Resources Wales and the National Trust.

The Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (Wales) Regulations 2020 placed a duty on them to close certain rights of way or access land which they considered likely to attract large numbers of people and hence prevent effective social distancing. The duties also extended to keeping these closures under review and amending as necessary.
However, exercise is still important for people’s physical and mental wellbeing, so Welsh Government do not wish to discourage people from leaving their homes for exercise once a day. Hence these limited closures are targeted to prevent overcrowding in specific areas only, and widespread closures of the rights of way network are to be avoided.
Following the lockdown landowners have raised concerns about increased use of public rights of way on their property, increased numbers of dogs, and perceived risks of exposure to Covid19 for residents and farm workers, particularly where family members are either vulnerable and/or self-isolating.

To help address this we have published guidance: https://gov.wales/coronavirus-covid-19-stay-active-stay-healthy-stay-local and increased messaging around responsible recreation e.g. the Deputy Minister for Housing and Local Government, Hannah Blythyn AM has issued a statement appealing to people to exercise responsibly in the countryside and reminding dog-owners of the need to keep dogs on leads in the vicinity of livestock.

The risk of the coronavirus being passed on to others from people using public rights of way is considered to be very low as long as people follow the Government’s instructions to maintain social distancing and follow hygiene advice.

Landowners do not have the legal right to block or obstruct public rights of way or access land. However, in very limited circumstances where large numbers of people are using such routes or where residents are vulnerable or self-isolating, landowners may consider the following measures:

• temporarily displaying 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 or farmyards.

• Note: this is a polite request only, and there is no power under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (CROW) or the Highways Act 1980 for landowners to close or obstruct a public right of way or use of access land

• offering an alternative route around gardens and farmyards only where it is safe to do so (you must gain permission from relevant landowners and make sure the route is safe for users and livestock) provided that the original right of way is maintained.

Key points to Note under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 and the Highways Act 1980

• Under Section 137 the Highways Act 1980 and section 14 of CROW it is an offence to obstruct the free passage along a public right of way or Access Land.
• It is an offence under Section 57 of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 to display a notice that contains “any false or misleading statement likely to deter the public from using” a right of way.
• It is also an offence under section 14 of CROW to display a sign which deters the public from exercising their right to use that access land
• It is an offence under Section 132 of the Highways Act 1980 to display on the surface of a public right of way or on any tree or structure within the public right of way any unauthorised sign or mark.
• Land owners may be liable for personal injury under section 2 of the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957 and Section 1 of the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1984 if they are reckless or intend to create a risk – for example by offering a dangerous alternative.
This means that
• If a land owner offers an alternative route, they must ensure that it is safe to use and that the existing right of way or use of access land is maintained so that users with differing abilities have a choice.
• A notice must not imply that there is any doubt about the use of the existing right of way or use of access land.

These temporary measures must be lifted as soon as social distancing measures are relaxed.

4 April

Public Rights of Way under the Highways Act 1980 and use of Access Land under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000: Covid-19

Updated guidance from Defra

“The government’s priority is to save lives and the best way to protect yourself and others from illness is to stay at home.  However, exercise is still important for people’s physical and mental well-being, so the government has said people can leave their homes for exercise once a day.

Defra has been advised by the NFU (National Farmers’ Union) and the CLA that some landowners are still concerned about increased use of public rights of way on their property increasing the risk to livestock, such as instances of gates being left open and dogs not being controlled.

To help address this Defra will publish a supplementary video on social media in advance of this weekend, reminding people to follow the Countryside Code. This will be published on Twitter @DefraGovUK and Defra’s Facebook page. We encourage you to share this with your members and networks.

Finally, further concerns have been raised by stakeholders that the use of public rights of way that run through gardens, farmyards and schools is increasing the risk of exposure to the coronavirus to residents and farm workers.

The risk of the coronavirus being passed on to others from people using public rights of way and other paths and trails is considered to be very low as long as people follow the Government’s instructions to maintain social distancing.

Landowners do not have the legal right to block or obstruct public rights of way or access land. However, in very limited circumstances where large numbers of people are using such routes, landowners may consider the following measures:

• tying gates open if it is safe to do so, so that walkers do not need to touch the gate.

• temporarily displaying 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.

• Note: this is a polite request only, and there is no power under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (CROW) or the Highways Act 1980 for landowners to close or obstruct a public right of way or use of access land

• offering an alternative route around gardens and farmyards only where it is safe to do so (you must gain permission from relevant landowners and make sure the route is safe for users and livestock) provided that the original right of way is maintained.

Key points to Note under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 and the Highways Act 1980
• Under Section 137 the Highways Act 1980 and section 14 of CROW it is an offence to obstruct the free passage along a public right of way or Access Land.
• It is an offence under Section 57 of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 to display a notice that contains “any false or misleading statement likely to deter the public from using” a right of way.
• It is also an offence under section 14 of CROW to display a sign which deters the public from exercising their right to use that access land
• It is an offence under Section 132 of the Highways Act 1980 to display on the surface of a public right of way or on any tree or structure within the public right of way any unauthorised sign or mark.
• Land owners may be liable for personal injury under section 2 of the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957 and Section 1 of the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1984 if they are reckless or intend to create a risk – for example by offering a dangerous alternative.

This means that
• If a land owner offers an alternative route, they must ensure that it is safe to use and that the existing right of way or use of access land is maintained so that users with differing abilities have a choice.
• A notice must not imply that there is any doubt about the use of the existing right of way or use of access land.

These temporary measures must be lifted as soon as social distancing measures are relaxed.”

3 April

Access to Green Space

Ahead of this weekend Defra is sharing its updated guidance on access to green spaces, which is published on GOV.UK

Defra is encouraging people to stay at home despite the warm weather, and ask that you too send similar messages to your members. You can see the latest Prime Minister’s Tweet on this here . Today Defra is also posting its ‘stay local, exercising safely’ video on our @DefraGovUK Twitter account, which you can retweet to reach your audiences.

Defra will continue to update the ‘rolling news story’ on GOV.UK so the guidance remains in line with latest central government messaging. It will also begin adding to a ‘Frequently Asked Question’ section on the same page to respond to bespoke issues such as public rights of way, pest control and waterways.

Please use the following guidance in order to stay safe:
• stay local and use open spaces near to your home where possible – do not travel unnecessarily
• you should only go outside alone or with members of your own household
• keep at least 2 metres apart from anyone outside your household at all times
• gatherings of more than two in parks or other public spaces have been banned and the police will enforce this
• if you have a garden, make use of the space for exercise and fresh air
• take hygiene precautions when you are outside, and wash your hands as soon as you are back indoors
• if walking your dog in areas used by other people, you should walk your dog on a lead to ensure you can safely keep 2 metres away from others. You can find further guidance for pet owners here.

Please see the latest government guidance on social distancing.
The Cabinet Office has also published the following: Coronavirus outbreak FAQs: what you can and can’t do.
Please be aware that if you are experiencing symptoms of coronavirus illness (COVID-19) or at risk of severe illness if you catch coronavirus, then you must stay at home. See the latest guidance from Public Health England.

 

30 March

Changes in Wales

The Welsh Government has made regulations (which are subject to retrospective approval by the National Assembly) which require the closure of public paths, byways, access land and National Trust land at honeypots where people are liable to congregate, or ‘the use of which otherwise poses a high risk to the incidence or spread of infection in its area with the coronavirus’. The duty is imposed on county and county borough councils, National Park authorities, Natural Resources Wales and the National Trust.

Closures must be advertised on the website of the body which closed them. At present, about half of those bodies which have a duty to act have advertised closures. These include extensive closures of access land and paths in the Brecon Beacons and Snowdonia National Parks, and parts of the coastal path (particularly in Pembrokeshire National Park). So far as we are aware, many bodies with closure powers have not closed any land or paths. Closures must be kept under review to see if they remain necessary.

The society recognises that, at the present time, it is right to exclude the public from honeypot sites, but is concerned that widespread and extensive closures are unnecessary and counter-productive. In some cases, they may mean that local people have no lawful place where they can take exercise locally, other than on paved roads, and that less frequented places may become popular, and higher risk, simply because other places are denied to the public. And we urge bodies which have effected closures to work with stakeholders in keeping them under review.

The society also asks the Welsh Government to prepare evidence-based guidance on the duty to close paths or land ‘the use of which otherwise poses a high risk to the incidence or spread of infection in its area with the coronavirus’ (r.9(2)(b)). Leaving aside honeypots or other paths where people are likely to be in close proximity (such as a narrowly-confined but popular path by a river), and where the duty to close arises under r.9(2)(a), the society seeks clarification of what use might pose a ‘high risk’ of infection? While there are many paths which pass through or by farms or homes, existing guidance suggests that the likelihood of infection from passers-by is negligible provided social distancing is maintained — just as it is in residential streets. The society would welcome guidance which is founded in epidemiological analysis as to whether surface-based contamination (for example, on stile handposts or gate fittings) is likely to pose a risk in the context of open-air path furniture exposed to sunlight and rain, the scale of any such risk, and what measures path users, landowners and farmers can take to minimise any such risk while encouraging public use in accordance with the regulations, the Countryside Code and sensible hygienic precautions.

 

27 March 2020

Access to green spaces and public right of way use

The government’s priority is to save lives and the best way to protect yourself and others from illness is to stay at home.
However, exercise is still important for people’s physical and mental wellbeing, so the government has said people can leave their homes for exercise once a day.

Please use the following guidance in order to stay safe and protect others:

Stay local and use open spaces near to your home where possible – do not travel unnecessarily.

You should only go outside alone or with members of your own household.

Keep at least two metres apart from anyone outside your household at all times.

Take hygiene precautions when you are outside, and wash your hands as soon as you are back indoors. Frequently clean and disinfect objects and surfaces that are touched regularly.

Gatherings of more than two in parks or other public spaces have been banned and the police will enforce this.

If you have a garden, make use of the space for exercise and fresh air.

Follow the Countryside Code. Leave no trace of your visit and take your litter home. Keep dogs under effective control and leave gates as you find them or follow instructions on signs.

Respect other people and protect the natural environment. Remember your actions can affect people’s lives and livelihoods.

Please see the latest government guidance on social distancing.

Please be aware that if you are experiencing symptoms of coronavirus illness (COVID-19) or at risk of severe illness if you catch coronavirus, then you must stay at home. See the latest guidance from Public Health England.

 

 

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