Published: Monday, 14 December 2020

Oxford City Council is promoting walks and outdoor activities in Oxford to enable extended families and friendship groups to meet safely over the Christmas period.

Although the coronavirus restrictions currently limit socialising between people from different households or support bubbles in any indoor setting, groups of up to six people are able to meet safely outdoors as long as social distancing measures are adhered to.

Getting outside in nature is vital to maintain good mental health, whilst staying connected to loved ones is also an important way to support others’ health and wellbeing.

How you can meet up with your friends and family safely over Christmas

Go Active Outdoors lists the parks and walk routes in and around Oxford city centre.  The trails are suitable for all levels of walkers and maps are available for download.  They are suitable for all ages, abilities and can be used at any time of the day, even over the festive period.

Oxford City Council has compiled a list of ‘55 free things to do’ in Oxford’s green spaces, which includes many ideas for outdoor activities that friends and families can participate in.  For example, groups can follow tree trails, go sculpture-spotting and play cricket in the parks. 

Oxford Health Walks also offers walk routes, ranging from gentle walks to more advanced levels.  Although the walk sessions are currently suspended due to the coronavirus restrictions, the site offers information and walk guides around Jericho, Blackbird Leys and Marston.  Sustainable Healthcare outlines the benefits of these walk routes on our mental and physical health. The Jericho Green Health route has been mapped using a new interactive mapping tool, and is available to download.

The Street Tag app is a free family-friendly way to get active outdoors, with reward-based games that track physical activity.  It can be used to make walking, running and cycling in the city more fun and is suitable for all the family.

‘Rule of 6’: Government Regulations

Transmission rates of the coronavirus are very much lower outdoors, and current government guidelines allow for up to 6 people to meet outside.  This may include people from within or outside support bubbles, but no more than 6 people are permitted to meet at any one time.  Social distancing also must be adhered to.

Currently, Oxford is under Tier 2 restrictions.  Though this is subject to change, the ‘Rule of 6’ applies to all Tiers.  This means that up to 6 people can meet in specific outdoor spaces, including parks, outdoor sports facilities and public gardens. 

Keep up with the latest Coronavirus information and guidance news in Oxford here.

It’s really important for our mental health and wellbeing to get outside and to see loved ones, particularly over the festive period.  Due to the coronavirus pandemic, we are all going to have to do things differently this year and find ways to get together safely in a way that won’t spread the virus; the best way to do this is by meeting outside, where transmission rates are very low.

We are lucky to have so many parks and green spaces in Oxford – let’s use them to meet family members and friends outdoors over the holidays.  I really encourage everyone who can to put on your warmest clothes and your bobble hats, make a flask of hot chocolate or mulled wine and get outside to spend time with loved ones. Check out our website and you could discover some new walks on your doorstep, from gentle strolls to longer hikes. I wish everyone a healthy Merry Christmas!

Councillor Louise Upton, Cabinet Member for a Safer, Healthy Oxford

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