Visiting safely during the Covid-19 outbreak

At Earth Trust we’re always looking for ways to bring nature to you and, in line with the latest government advice that we should all be staying at home, over the next few weeks we’ll be doing our best to do this online. You can sign up here to receive our newsletters, where we’ll be sharing activity ideas as well as news from the farm, or follow us on social media to get our latest posts and resources.

What is the latest government guidance on accessing green spaces?

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. Exercise in green space has the added benefit of contact with nature, which we know is good for our well-being. Enjoying nature in our gardens, if we are lucky enough to have them, can be part of this; green spaces can still be used, and footpaths and other rights of way in rural areas remain open, but ensure you follow the government’s advice and whilst doing so.

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. If possible, try to avoid using footpaths that may take you through a farm or other rural business where social distancing may be difficult.

Are Earth Trust green spaces still open?

Yes. We recognise our green spaces may continue to be popular spots for those wanting to make the most of their daily exercise. Please make sure you’re staying safe and enabling others to do the same by following these guidelines:

  • Keep your distance – make sure there are at least 2m between you and other households at all times, as demonstrated by our CEO Jayne and Head of Fundraising Lee Ann in the video below!
  • Look out for each other – be aware that we may not have staff on site when you visit, and that emergency services may also be slower to respond at the moment if you need help. And of course, if you’re unwell, please stay at home.
  • Think about common areas where you might share contact, such as going over stiles. Gates should be left as they are found, but if you need to touch them remember to wash your hands as soon as you can afterwards (or use hand sanitiser), and avoid touching your face in the meantime.
  • Don’t stay if it’s busy. At peak times it’s harder to keep a safe space between families especially on narrower footpaths, so if it looks busy when you arrive, please come back another time or try one of our other places.

We will continue to monitor the latest government advice and make changes if necessary.

Am I still allowed to drive to Earth Trust green spaces?

The current advice is to stay local and use open spaces near your home where possible. Government guidance urges people to avoid unnecessary travel, but that the public shouldn’t be sanctioned for “travelling a reasonable distance to exercise” (although no definition has been given). Our car parks remain open and we will continue to monitor the situation.

Can I walk my dog at Earth Trust green spaces?

Yes, but please keep dogs on leads, even in areas where livestock are not grazing. The government guidance states that 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.

Can gates be left open so people don’t need to touch them?

Landowners have been encouraged to consider tying gates open if it is safe to do so, so that walkers do not need to touch the gate; unfortunately this is not possible at many of Earth Trust’s green spaces as they are grazed by cattle or sheep. In line with the Countryside Code please leave gates as you find them, and then remember to wash your hands or use hand sanitiser as soon as possible after touching a gate or stile.

Why are Beard Construction still on site at the Earth Trust Centre during the lockdown?

Visitors to the Earth Trust Farm and Wittenham Clumps may have noticed that our contractors, Beard, are still on site working on our new Earth Lab education centre and Innovation Hub. Guidance is constantly being updated, however, in line with current recommendations, we have agreed that Beard have sufficient precautions in place to enable them to keep working during this period.

As per government advice, construction works are continuing. Beard have introduced a number of additional measures to limit the risk of spreading Covid-19, including removal of any face-to-face meetings and restrictions on the number of contractors allowed on site at any one time.

All of this, coupled with the fact the Earth Trust site is in a remote, rural setting – very different to constructions sites based in highly populated urban environments – reduces the risk of spreading disease and allows work to continue. Earth Trust and Beard are constantly monitoring the situation and will put the project on hold if any future government guidance recommends it, but for the time being Beard are happy to continue supporting a local business as the location provides a safe working environment.

Thank you for working with us to keep everyone safe.

 

Earth Trust contact details:

  • General enquiries: [email protected]
  • Earth Trust Friend enquiries: [email protected]
  • Volunteering enquiries: [email protected]
  • Events and activities: [email protected]
  • The best way to get in touch is via email but you can also phone the office on 01865 407792 and leave a message for someone to call you back; to report urgent issues involving livestock or directly relating to our green spaces please see the emergency phone numbers on the contacts page.

Photo by Gemma Warr

Last updated: 15th April 2020

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