Can you go walking, tramping, trail running or hunting during COVID-19 Alert Level 4?
Updated 10.20am, Monday 6 April to include the Health Act Order Section 70 (1)(f), issued by the Director-General of Health. This order prohibits hunting, tramping, surfing and other outdooor activities that ‘expose participants to danger or may require search and rescue services’.
As we all know, New Zealand moved to Alert Level 4 at 11:59pm on Wednesday 25 March. These are unprecedented times and we want to help you know what this means for your outdoor recreation plans. The New Zealand Mountain Safety Council (MSC) has sought advice from the Ministry of Health as to what Alert Level 4 means. Additionally, covid19.govt.nz is an excellent source for a lot of information on our day-to-day lives for the next month. This update is provided to ensure a consistent approach is used by everyone so we can all play an active role in uniting against COVID-19.
The MSC is reminding all trampers, hunters and outdoor recreation enthusiasts to adhere to the COVID-19 Alert Level 4 restrictions, as announced by the New Zealand Government and subsequently passed into Law by Order of the Director-General of Health. MSC Chief Executive Mike Daisley reiterates that the ‘eliminate’ criteria of Level 4 requires everyone to stay home and avoid all non-essential movements.
“Unfortunately, COVID-19 is going to have a significant impact on many people’s plans to get out into the hills, but that’s a small price to pay for the alternative of not getting on top of the COVID-19 virus. Our message to everyone is simple: stay at home, stay out of the backcountry, put the trip plans on ice and save them for another day.
“We will all have plenty of opportunities to enjoy our wonderful country once this is over, we all want New Zealanders to stay safe and healthy.”
However, this doesn’t mean people can’t get outside and get physical activity. Daisley says, “it’s about choosing the appropriate level of exercise, maintaining some sense of appropriate physical activity for health and wellbeing benefits, but not driving anywhere to go for a walk or run, don’t tackle those longer challenging day trips and certainly nothing that requires an overnight stay.”
The Ministry of Health has advised the MSC to ensure everyone knows to “stop all interactions with other people outside of those in your household” and “we are asking you only spend time with those who you are in self-isolation with, keep your distance (minimum of 2-meters) from all others at all times”.
The MSC state people who do get out for exercise must stick to their local residential neighbourhood, walk or run to the local park or around your local streets. All your short outings must start and end at your home, and require no driving. Always maintain the necessary social distancing measures. It’s also essential that people don’t meet up with others when they’re out getting some exercise, only take part in these activities with the people in your household.
Here’s some specific advice depending on the activities you’re interested in:
Local outdoor recreation such as short walks/runs around your neighbourhood streets
Yes, you can do these activities — You may go for a walk/run/ride or other physical exercise, but always keep a 2-metre distance from other people (not in your household) at all times.
Be extremely careful of ‘high touch items’ like handrails, avoid touching these or immediately wash/sanitise your hands afterwards if you can’t avoid it.
- Do not meet others for the activity
- Do not stop to talk to others (but give them a happy smile, say hello and check they’re ok as you pass them)
- Do not drive, only walk/run starting and finishing from your house. Use of your car is only for essential needs such as groceries or medical supplies, not for recreation purposes.
- Do not stop for food/water/supplies
- Do not ask anyone outside your household (those you’re isolating with) to pick you up, meet you, or help you in anyway
- Make sure you tell someone in your household where you’re going and how long you plan to be gone for. Take a cell phone with you so you can be contacted or contact others if you need to
- Thoroughly wash your hands on returning home.
Day trips or overnight tramping and hunting
No, you shouldn’t do any day or overnight outdoor recreation of any type during Alert Level 4. All Department of Conservation campsites and backcountry huts are closed. It is not appropriate to participate in these activities at the present time. The MSC suggests you put your trip plans on hold and select shorter, local and more suitable physical activities.
Roar specific hunting
No, you shouldn’t go hunting. Typically at this time of the year hunters would be heading into the hills for the annual Roar season. However, the message is clear, Daisley says “We must eliminate any travel; every contact could spread the virus. The more you ignore this advice, the longer this will last. The Roar hunting season is effectively cancelled this year, stay at home, be with your family and ensure NZ has the best chance of getting through this.
The MSC is urging hunters to be aware of the consequences should they get into trouble, Daisley says “if you get injured, or require search and rescue help, you’re instantly putting others at risk, the number of human contacts that would occur should a land search and rescue be required would defeat the purpose of Alert Level 4 and ultimately mean we’re all in lockdown for longer.
“We want to make sure all of our health and other essential frontline services are available for the response to COVID-19.”
If you have questions about this information, please use the comments function to ask us and we’ll do our best to clarify details. We’ll update this information if required and pass on specific outdoor recreation advice from the Ministry of Health. This information might also change as the COVID-19 situation progresses and we’ll do our best to keep all of you up to date.
Kia Kaha New Zealand. We can beat this.
The MSC team.
— New Zealand Mountain Safety Council 2020 —