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Mountaineers and hill-walkers told to stay at home

By John Davidson

Mountaineers and hill walkers are being told to stay at home.
Mountaineers and hill walkers are being told to stay at home.

Walkers and climbers have been told to stay away from the hills after the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, announced a country-wide lockdown.

It comes after hoards of people ignored previous advice from the government and travelled to so-called remote areas.

People travelling to the Highlands have also warned to stop risking spreading the disease by travelling to holiday homes or in campervans.

Mountaineering Scotland and Scottish Mountain Rescue urged people to abide by the government advice, which on Monday evening was strengthened to a full lockdown.

It means people are being told to stay at home unless it is for essential reasons such as key workers or shopping for essentials.

Our NHS services in the mountain regions are already stretched. Don’t add to their load

An exception was made for people exercising, which has been restricted to one form of exercise per day.

Mountain rescue teams had already warned that they were working below normal capacity with no adequate protective equipment for dealing with people with suspected Covid-19.

Yet the past weekend saw a number of rescue call-outs.

Damon Powell, chair of Scottish Mountain Rescue, said: “We do not have PPE within teams for Covid-19 – quite rightly the NHS staff and others must be prioritised – and this is putting many team members in a genuine dilemma. They are all volunteers. Should they do what they always do and respond, putting loved ones at home at greater risk?

“Many team members will have people they live with who are classified as vulnerable – is it fair to take that risk? Also, many members of teams are self-employed and already facing hardship.

“Our NHS services in the mountain regions are already stretched. Don’t add to their load. The mountains will be there next year and the year after, let’s make sure we all are."

Mountaineering Scotland, which speaks for mountaineers and mountaineering in Scotland, has already urged its members to take their exercise locally as long as the government recommends that.

Stuart Younie, chief executive officer, said: “It’s not just our own health we are risking, it’s the health of others, many of whom may be much more vulnerable.

“As responsible members of the outdoor community we should avoid travel and recreational mountain activities and consider our social responsibilities to ourselves, friends, families and those rural communities who are rightly concerned about the impact of visitors to their areas.

“It’s such a hard thing to say, to urge people NOT to go to the hills, but now really is the time to avoid unnecessary activities in the mountains.

“Remember, this is temporary, and we do ask that people put their own wishes aside for now and avoid unnecessary travel and contact with others.”

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