Dorset Council have issued a notice about the use of public rights of way during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak:
Dorset Council recognises that public rights of way and the cycleway / walking trails in Dorset provide an opportunity for local people to take exercise and get some fresh air in these difficult times. These paths should not be blocked or obstructed and cannot legally be closed to the public.. It is also important to stress that people should not be making special journeys to access them. Travel to exercise is NOT essential travel and people should not be travelling to do their daily exercise. Please see the latest Government guidance on access to green spaces and as always, follow the Countryside Code.
Local communities throughout the County rely on rights of way and cycleway / walking trails, however this should not be the cause of unnecessary travel into and around the County – so, if there is a particular problem with people gathering on rights of way or cycleway / walking trails, then the Police should be informed. They have the power to disperse any groups behaving in such a way.
Where rights of way pass close to, or through residential and agricultural properties, it is important that the existing Government advice regarding social distancing and hand washing is followed.
Dorset Council will work with the Police and other agencies to take any further actions necessary in the event of any changes to legislation or Government guidance, however, at this time there are no plans nor legal means to close public rights of way or the cycleway / walking trail networks for COVID-19 related reasons.
For more information, see the Government’s “green spaces” guidance.