(Field of play) bubble bursts for many Scottish runners

Increased protection levels for Scotland will affect runners as well as revellers

Many runners hoping for a change of scene for their Christmas Day miles have had their hopes dashed by a new wave of coronavirus restrictions. On Saturday, the Scottish government announced that travel outside Scotland over the festive period was banned, as well as any ‘bubble’ visits that can’t be done on Christmas Day.

Further clipping the wings of any runners hoping to explore roads and trails further afield during the break, all of Mainland Scotland will be plunged into Tier 4, the highest level of restrictions, for at least three weeks from Boxing Day. Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles will be placed in Tier 3.

For many runners in the west of the country, the news comes only days after emerging from an earlier set of Tier 4 restrictions.

For runners in the current Tier 1 regions like Dumfries, the Borders and Moray, jumping up three protection levels will have significant effects on both their personal and club runs. 

In Tier 4, informal exercise outdoors is still permitted, but the ‘field of play’ bubble rule – which brought a little bit of ‘normal life’ back to club outings – is suspended. From Boxing Day, Tier 4 runners must keep 2m apart when running side by side and 5m apart when single file.

The maximum group size for organised events, like club runs and jogscotland sessions, is also reduced from 15 to 8 in Tier 4. All indoor sports facilities will have to close and any races cancelled. 

Highland and Island runners moving from Tier 1 to Tier 3 on Boxing Day will still be able to enjoy the privileges of the ‘field of play’ bubble, removing the requirement for social distancing. Their maximum group size will remain at 15 (not including the coach) with a recommended size of 12.  Races and events will still be allowed, with multiple bubbles of up to 30 runners in each, to a maximum of 200 per day. 

In terms of travel, from this Saturday, all runners in Scotland over the age of 18 must stay in their local authority areas for ‘organised’ activities, but are permitted to travel up to 5 miles outside their local government area to take part in ‘informal exercise’, subject to household rules, and as long as that activity starts and finishes in the same place.

Image courtesy: Unsplash

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