Chorley Police took to Facebook yesterday to express their annoyance at the amount of people travelling to Rivington to spend time outdoors. The social media post threatened that fines would be ‘forthcoming if this continues’.
Informing the public that a number of car vehicle registrations at the beauty spot were not from the immediate local area, they warned that this was a ‘blatant breach of covid restrictions.’
However, leading human rights barrister Adam Wagner later urged Chorley Police on Twitter to remove their post, as travelling to an outdoor public place for exercise or open-air recreation is NOT illegal and therefore fines cannot be enforced.
While advice is to “stay local” this is advisory and not legislation making it legally unenforceable.
Adam Wagner wrote “@ChorleyPolice you should take that post down and make sure you know the difference between guidance (unenforceable) and law (enforceable). Also suggest reviewing any fixed penalty notices given under Tier 4”
He continued “It misstates the regulations. Correct that in Tier 4 you can’t be outside without a reasonable excuse – includes take exercise or open air recreation. But no “you should stay local”. That is purely guidance. There has never been such a restriction in the English regulations”
This follows from reports this weekend that Lancashire Police had visited local individuals and threatened them with fines for a breach of covid regulations after travelling to the Lake District. As is the case for Rivington, it is not illegal and not a punishable offence to travel to the Lake District for exercise or open-air recreation.
It is however unwise to travel to beauty spots in the current icy weather conditions. As many flock to Pendle Hill and the Lakes in pursuit of snow, incidents of broken bones and minor injuries requiring medical attention have increased dramatically and this puts added pressure on our health service.
While it is not illegal to do so, we urge you not to travel to neighbouring counties for hikes or sledging to protect yourself from the risk of injury or accident that may result in you needing to access hospital services or even mountain rescue.