Only essential travel such as going for groceries or to and from work has been allowed throughout the pandemic. Now those restrictions are easing many will be eager to get back into the saddle and ride old favourite roads. With international travel likely to remain off the cards until late June 2021 many will be considering staycations within the UK and looking for new regions to explore.
As the UK eases out of Covid-19 lockdown restrictions motorcyclists are looking forward to returning to ride freely around the country in groups with their fellow riders. Many will want to meet up with old friends or join a tour to make new ones. McTours have some advice for all before heading out in groups.
Restrictions may be easing allowing travel across Scotland, England and Wales but the virus remains and new variants are emerging all the time, so, those vaccinated may not have the protection they think from these new strains. Therefore, great care must be maintained to minimise the risk for all and you are therefore advised to listen to the advice offered from government and healthcare professionals to prevent any further spread of the COVID-19 virus such as to maintain social distancing and to remember the 'Hands, Face, Space' message.
Always bear in mind that the rules across the devolved administrations may differ. As such, the applicable rules in England, Wales, Northern Ireland or Scotland are not the same, so, best check what applies before setting off on your journey and be aware that the regulations may change whilst you are travelling. E.g. Compare England with Scotland
|Dates – from||29 March 2021||12 April 2021||17 May 2021||21 June 2021|
|Motorcycle Activity||Rule of 6 applies – stay local avoid excessive journeys||Rule of 6 applies – stay local avoid excessive journeys||Rule of 6 indoors Groups of up to 30 outdoors – excessive travel removed||Any subject to guidance suggested|
|Travel||Exercise and recreation – on top of essential journeys Excessive travel should be avoided||DVSA testing restarts||Excessive travel removed (domestic travel only - no international travel)||Restrictions lifted|
|Rules on mixing||Up to 6 adults from 2 households to meet socially and for exercise outside||Rule of 6 or 2 households in outdoor settings only – no indoor mixing of households||Rule of 6 or 2 households indoors – under review. 30 person limits outdoors||Restrictions lifted|
|Overnight stays and retail||Non-essential closed||All retail open – hotels closed – overnight stays in domestic premises (household only)||Hotels and retail now open||All retail open|
|Dates – from||16 April 2021||26 April 2021||17 May 2021||June 2021|
|Motorcycle Activity||Rule of 6 applies – up to 6 people from up to 6 households can socialise outdoors. So, a group run is now permitted!||Rule of 6 applies – up to 6 people from up to 6 households can socialise outdoors and up to 6 people from up to 2 households can socialise indoors in a public place.||Up to 8 people from up to 8 households may socialise outdoors.||Larger biking groups - Up to 12 people from 12 households can socialise outdoors.|
|Travel||Removal of travel distance limit within Scotland for outdoor, small group recreation, socialising or exercise (but not stay away from your local authority area overnight for that purpose)||Unrestricted travel within Scotland, England and Wales (subject to other local restrictions in place)||Domestic travel only - no international travel. Unrestricted travel to all Levels 0-2 areas; must not enter a Level 3 or 4 area unless for a permitted reason||Restrictions lifted|
|Rules on mixing||Up to 6 people from up to 6 households, plus children under 12, can socialise outdoors. No in-house socialising.||Up to 6 people from 2 households can socialise indoors in a public place such as a cafe or restaurant. Takeaway food can be collected indoors.||Up to 4 people from 2 household can socialise indoors in a private home and up to 6 people from up to 3 households may socialise in an indoors public space.||Up to 8 people from up to 3 households can socialise indoors in a public place and up to 6 people from up to 3 households in a private dwelling|
|Overnight stays and retail||Travel restricted to within Scotland. Overnight stays for essential travellers only.||All shops, stores and close contact services can open. Hospitality venues like cafes, pubs and restaurants can open until: 20:00 indoors (no alcohol) Local licensing laws apply outdoors (alcohol permitted. Tourist accommodation to reopen (self-catering accommodation to be restricted in line with rules on indoor gathering)||Hospitality venues can open until: 22:30 indoors (alcohol permitted, 2 hour slots) Outdoors – local licensing laws apply. Cinemas, theatres, concert halls, music venues, comedy clubs, amusement arcades, and bingo halls can open, subject to capacity constraints. Outdoor and indoor events can resume. Maximum capacities - indoors (100), outdoors seated (500) and outdoors free-standing (250) subject to physical distancing capacity requirements||Hospitality can remain open (indoors) until 23:00 and local licensing laws outdoors. Attendance at events can increase with maximum capacities of indoors (200), outdoors seated (1000) and outdoor free-standing (500) subject to physical distancing capacity requirements|
In summary, small groups are permitted indoors with larger groups allowed for outdoor activity. These differ across the various administrations! Always take care throughout your journey and never interact unsafely with others who are not part of your household, support bubble, including any group of six. If stopping for meals or overnight then check the rules applicable at the time of travel and take greater care especially when indoors. When accommodation re-opens it is ill advised to share a bedroom with anyone other than a family member or partner.
The advice for those heading out for a leisurely motorcycle ride is still to stay local where possible and when gathering or stopping for a chat the 2-meter social distance still needs to be maintained. As outdoor sporting events are generally permitted certain motorcycling such as to a track event is permitted.
All the regulations refer to ‘open air recreation’ but do not offer a definition, therefore, it could be argued to include motorcycling for leisure on public roads. Generally, if you stay local you will be on the right side of the law, but use your own discretion to interpret what is stated and be aware that the rules are subject to change. We don’t think anything in any of the rules at any time excludes motorcycle travel for a short distance within your local area, for example, to go for a leisure motorcycle ride, to access open spaces such as parks, beaches, countryside accessible to the public, forests, public gardens or the grounds of a heritage site and so on.
Make sure you understand the rules concerning travel that apply in your part of the UK. If you cannot find the current data or are still concerned about how far you can travel then it is best to stay within your local authority area and minimise the number of journeys you make. The vaccination rollout is progressing well across all parts of the UK and the most vulnerable groups have now been immunised. This is a major step towards us being able to ride our bikes freely again.
It should not need to be said that if you are showing any of the signs of infection (new cough, temperature, loss of taste or smell) or suspect that a member of your household, may be infected, stay at home!
Before you set off decide what COVID-19 safety kit you are going to take with you, such as alcohol hand gel, masks, gloves, tissues, plastic bags, etc. Use it and dispose of it appropriately and safely. Plan your route carefully. Know where you are going and what resources will be available along the route. E.g. what fuel stations are available, can you get meals or snacks, do you need to take a picnic with you? It is a good idea to be as self-sufficient as possible, so, take food, water and other refreshments.
The chance of transmission of the virus while riding on the highway is very low, but you must ensure that when you start and stop you remain socially distanced from anyone who is not in your household or support bubble. If you are carrying a pillion or have a sidecar then your passenger must be part of your household or social bubble.
Pay close attention to the numbers permitted for outdoor meetings if you are to riding in a group. Under Government and devolved administration legislation any gathering exceeding permitted limits may be identified as unlawful and may also court unwelcome publicity.
Agree in advance what you are going to do if you have problems. Agree, for example, how to deal safely with any breakdowns or emergencies. If a Biker is Down approach and carry out Dynamic Risk Assessment (ORA) for hazards, secure area for casualty and responder's safety. Where possible gain casualty history, and obtain information from witnesses/carers/relatives etc:
Share the information gathered with any attending Ambulance Crews but maintain a 2 meter distance from them and allow them to put on appropriate PPE prior to approaching the injured party.
Stay away from crowded spaces. Avoid stopping in places where groups of people are gathering. If you do find yourself in any such setting, do not interact with others who are not part of your bubble. Establish in advance where there will be essential facilities on your route such as public conveniences. Note where social distancing may be an issue. Limit the number of stops you make, and wherever possible stop in isolated places. Do not stop or park in public car parks where you cannot be sure of maintaining adequate social distancing.
Know the COVID-19 safe procedures to follow at filling stations or shops. Limit the number of fuel or convenience stops you make. Encourage all riders to be COVID-19 safe. Ride sensibly and with consideration for others. Be aware that some aspects of official guidelines for COVID-19 security may continue to be different in each of the devolved administrations (England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) and that restrictions may be imposed in certain areas at short notice to deal with localised infection outbreaks.