NFU and CLA urges people to follow countryside code across Oxfordshire while on daily exercise outings during coronavirus outbreak
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The two rural organisations have issued a joint statement, having received intelligence from their members that the sunny weather has brought large numbers of people to the countryside, not all of them behaving appropriately, despite Government advice to avoid unnecessary travel.
An NFU South East spokesman said: “We fully recognise that people want to take their once daily exercise in the countryside at a safe social distance from others during this C19 crisis.
“But we are reminding people that the countryside is also a working environment for farmers who are producing our food. Therefore we urge people to wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds before leaving home and on their return.
“Please follow the countryside code, sticking to designated footpaths and at this critical time, please keep dogs on leads at all times, particularly as ewes (female sheep) are giving birth to lambs.
"This will not only reduce the risk of dog attacks on farm animals, it will also help to avoid unnecessary social contact between countryside users and farmers, many of whom are older and at greater risk of C19.”
Michael Valenzia, regional director of CLA south east, which represents farmers, landowners and rural businesses, said: “We would urge people to follow government calls to limit outdoor exercise to once a day, and do so as locally as possible, as well as practising responsible social distancing.
“If you have to walk in the countryside, please respect the countryside code which helps to protect British landscapes as well as farmers and those living and working there.
"Now, more than ever, our farmers must be allowed to get on with the job of feeding Britain. Stick to public rights of way, keep dogs under control, take litter home, close gates and don’t block entrances or gateways.
“With most recycling centres shutting due to the coronavirus pandemic, we would also urge anyone tempted to fly-tip to think seriously about their actions.
"Fly-tipping is a scourge on the countryside and has a huge environmental and financial impact. We ask everyone to be a responsible member of our community, especially at this time, when we should be supporting each other. Anyone committing this crime deserves to face the full force of the law.”