Monday, 08 March 2021

Villager worried by rise in visitors coming to exercise

Villager worried by rise in visitors coming to exercise

A MAN from Binfield Heath is concerned about people using the village as a walking hot spot during the coronavirus lockdown.

Stephen Cooper, of Gravel Road, says people should not be driving to another area to do their daily exercise at a time when the virus is spreading so quickly.

Current Government advice states that people should exercise within their local area but the exact distance a person can travel has not been defined.

People are being asked to be sensible and stay in the area where they live unless they have a good reason to do otherwise.

Mr Cooper, 70, a retired director of international corporate events who has lived in Binfield Heath for 27 years, says he is pleased people want to visit the village but thinks it is irresponsible to do so at the moment.

He said: “It has been a growing issue for a good few months but it is particularly noticeable at the moment.

“A lot of people from outside the area seem to be driving here, parking up and going for a walk in the lovely countryside that we are lucky to have.

“We understand and sympathise with people who want to do this and it must be awful not to have those sorts of surroundings if you live in a city or a less attractive environment. 

“There is an assumption that we are invulnerable because we are outdoors but I think that is starting to be questioned by the scientists.

“We don’t want to sound selfish about this and I am sure there are other villages experiencing the same. However, when you see the number of people testing positive for the virus, being hospitalised and dying, it is absolutely mind-blowing.”

Paul Rollason, chairman of Binfield Heath Parish Council, was not as concerned about the number of visitors to the village.

He said: “Government advice for England says you can leave your home to exercise but are limited to once per day.

“This should be done locally wherever possible but you can travel a short distance within your local area to do so if necessary. 

“Exactly what defines a local area is not explained precisely. Travelling from the centre of Henley, for example, to Binfield Heath must be considered local. 

“Some villagers may not welcome these visitors but they are not necessarily breaking the rules.” 

Vice-chairman Lis Ransom said: “It has been made clear by scientists that you are much safer outdoors than indoors and very unlikely either to pass on the virus, or catch it.

“Obviously, it’s best to stay as close to home as possible and the rules on taking exercise may change so everyone should watch out for that.

“As a dog walker myself, I’m aware there are more people than usual out and about on the footpaths around the village but I do recognise a lot of them because they are local.”

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