The headline advice from the government during the current phase of the COVID-19 pandemic is to stay at home – but what does that mean for people who have a garden?
First of all it’s important to know the difference between social distancing, shielding and self-isolation:
In either of the first two categories, there are no restrictions on enjoying your private outdoor space such as a garden or back yard, and getting fresh air is important.
But can you go in the garden during self-isolation? The short answer is yes, you can.
The NHS advice about going outside while self-isolating may come as a surprise – although you should not have visitors to your home and should have food and medicines delivered rather than going out to buy them, you are still allowed to take your one period of exercise per day.
However, you should be extra careful to avoid contact with other people, and stay well over the recommended six feet or two metres from anyone you see.
Importantly if you have a garden of your own, you are absolutely allowed to use it as normal – the only exception is if you live with other people.
If you don’t live alone, self-isolation can be more difficult. If you are the one displaying symptoms, you must stay at home for seven days, or until your symptoms have gone, whichever takes longer.
The other people in your household should also self-isolate, but for twice as long – at least 14 days, plus a further seven days from the onset of symptoms for any individual who becomes infected.
You might want to minimise direct contact with the other people in your household, especially elderly relatives, to reduce the risk of them becoming infected.
If so, remember to factor this into your use of the garden. Evidence suggests you are less likely to transmit COVID-19 in open spaces, so in good weather you might prefer to sit outside with your family, but stick to the two metres of separation if possible.
Fresh air and exercise are an important part of staying healthy and recovering from illness, especially if COVID-19 leaves you feeling short of breath and generally fatigued.
Self-isolating alone can be challenging but the rules are much clearer. Self-isolating with other family members is more complicated, so do your best to minimise contact and stay home – in your house or in your garden – as much as you can.