Coronavirus and the Coast Path

This page is up to date as of Monday 19th July. For the most up-to-date information and guidance please visit the Government website directly. A summary of the latest Government changes is listed at the bottom on this page for your convenience. 

Enjoying the National Trail as restrictions lift:

As of 19th July, almost all restrictions in England have been lifted. There are now no limits on how many people can meet up; social distancing (except in some places) is no longer mandatory; face coverings are no longer required by law (except in crowded places); and pubs and restaurants are no longer required to provide only table service.

*However, please note* there are many businesses in the South West who are taking a slower approach to easing the restrictions they have in place, for the safety of their staff and customers - so please respect the local practices in place when visiting the South West Coast Path and surrounding areas. Whilst the country is taking Step 4 on the Roadmap, we ask that you still ‘tread carefully’.


Pub garden, Bowgie Inn, Hoxton Watersports Cafe, Housel Bay Hotel. 

These changes come following the Prime Minister's address on 12th July, which confirmed a move to Step 4 of the Roadmap.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I visit the South West Coast Path?

  • Yes. The South West Coast Path is open and you can now meet indoors or outdoors with no limits on the number of people in your group size.
  • You no longer have to stay 2m apart from people, but please be considerate that others using the Coast Path may still want to social distance to protect themselves and/or loved ones who may be more vulnerable. Please continue to carefully consider the risks to you and the people around you when enjoying the trail.
  • For more detailed guidance about accessing outdoor green spaces, click here.

Can I travel to visit the South West Coast Path?

  • Yes. Domestic overnight stays are allowed and there is no longer a restriction on the number of people you can holiday with.
  • With many countries on the red and amber list, the South West is an even more popular choice with holiday makers this year so, please plan ahead and avoid the busiest times and routes if you can.
  • Car parks should now be open, but some may be closed or operating at lower capacity. If driving to access the Coast Path, please check car parking before you go. Do not park anywhere that could cause an obstruction for residents or for emergency services requiring access. 

Will businesses and facilities be open?

  • Yes. Hospitality businesses such as pubs, bars, restaurants, and cafes are allowed to open and those serving food are no longer required to provide only table service. However, many businesses in the South West are choosing to take a more considered approach to easing the restrictions they have in place, for the safety of their staff and customers. Please take note of individual business practices and adhere to any restrictions in place (this may include for example still wearing face masks, limiting the number of people in a group or still operating table service only.
  • Yes, all holiday accommodation is allowed to open, including hotels, hostels, B&Bs and campsites. For your own safety and the safety of others, again please follow any coronavirus measures businesses still have in place.
  • Entertainment and visitor attractions such as cinemas, zoos and theme parks are also open.
  • Shops and supermarkets selling food and medicine are open. However, we advise you always take sufficient food, water, essentials such as medicine with you on any walks on the Coast Path.
  • Public toilets should now be open, however you may find some have been closed, so please take this in consideration when planning your visit.

PHOTO: Sally Pickles, welcoming visitors again to The Bowgie Inn, Cracktock. Cornwall.

Can I come on holiday to the South West or stay at a second home?

Yes. Domestic overnight stays are allowed. If however, you are travelling to the Coast Path from abroad, please check the Government website for more guidance on entering England based on red, amber and green listed territories. 

How should I behave whilst enjoying the Cast Path?

As more of us will be sharing outdoor spaces, it is more important than ever to respect other people and protect the natural environment. When visiting the South West Coast Path, please always follow the Countryside Code:

You should:

  • take all of your litter home
  • keep dogs under effective control and on a lead when you are around farm animals - read further guidance for pet owners
  • leave gates as you find them and follow instructions on signs
  • keep to paths and follow signs where they suggest alternative routes
  • check if facilities are open to visitors (for example, car parks and toilets)

Also, please ensure you:

  • Read signs and respect the measures that local authorities and site management have put in place to help ensure social distancing.
  • Consider wildlife, including nesting birds who may have moved into new areas. Land managers may have provided extra protection for wildlife. Be vigilant and comply with these protective measures so that you do not disrupt the local wildlife.
  • All our National Trails remain open including newly opened stretches of England Coast Path, however people must follow the Government’s instructions to maintain social distancing.
  • Make space for people to pass safely wherever possible on the Coast Path. You may need to factor a wider berth with runners (and horse riders and cyclists on the small sections of Path where this is permitted). If you are on a particularly narrow stretch of Path where you cannot leave 2 meters of space, we recommend stopping and turning to face away from the Path until the other person has passed you. 

Please note, landowners do not have the legal right to block or obstruct Public Rights of Way. However, in very limited circumstances where large numbers of people are using such routes, landowners may consider the following measures:

    • Tying gates open if it is safe to do so, so that walkers do not need to touch the gate.
    • Temporarily displaying polite notices that encourage users to respect local residents and workers by following social distancing guidelines and consider using alternative routes that do not pass through gardens, farmyards or schools.
    • Offering an alternative route around gardens and farmyards only where it is safe to do so (you must gain permission from relevant landowners and make sure the route is safe for users and livestock) provided that the original right of way is maintained.

Latest Government advice on accessing green spaces safely can be found here.

Official Government guidance

STEP 4:  How to stay safe and help prevent the spread

19th July: What’s changed

  • No limit on meeting people but try to meet others outside where possible.
  • People currently working from home should return to the workplace gradually.
  • Nightclubs open and a return to full capacity for theatre and cinema audiences.
  • Businesses and large events encouraged to use COVID-certification to limit spread of virus.
  • Face coverings recommended in crowded public spaces, such as public transport.  
  • Social distancing no longer mandatory.

You should get a test and follow the stay at home guidance if you have COVID-19 symptoms.

Supporting business and the local economy - Introducing Way Makers

We are delighted that all businesses along the Coast Path are now able to open and return to ‘business as usual’. It makes us even happier that during this challenging period, we have connected the Coast Path to more than 350 businesses via our Way Maker programme. Way Maker businesses are now helping us to look after the Coast Path, whilst promoting their services to the 9 million walkers that visit the National Trail.

PHOTO: Way Maker George at Biffen's Kitchen in North Devon. 

As the charity that champions, protects and cares for the Coast Path, we have created the Way Makers program with the aim of supporting local businesses in their recovery from the pandemic. It has been designed to enable businesses such as cafes, campsites, B&Bs, hotels, pubs, restaurants, attractions and activity providers to promote their offering on Coast Path walks within a five-mile radius of their location. The cost-effective scheme, connects walkers to businesses that will help them plan a trip to the Coast Path, giving businesses and walkers an opportunity to support the Coast Path, which is facing increasing challenges due to coastal erosion, climate change and increased footfall. Please use our accommodation, food and drink and experience finder in the EXPLORE section of our website to find supporting businesses.

For local businesses wanting to find out more about joining the South West Coast Path Association as a Way Maker,  visit

Stay connected to the Path

To keep up to date with the South West Coast Path please follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram. You can also share your stories about being reunited outdoors with friends and family using the hashtag #southwestcoastpath

Update for Members of the SWCPA

All charity staff are continuing to work from home to help contain the virus and reduce the chances of it spreading within the team and those we work with. The majority of our activities and meetings are taking place virtually or outside until further notice. We apologise for any disruptions to servicing memberships, donations, fundraising requests or responding to general enquiries during this time.

Mass participation events

Photo: Jurassic Coast Challenge postponed

Mass-participation running and walking events due to take place on the Coast Path in 2021 are most likely postponed or cancelled, this may include those still listed on our Event Calendar, so please check event organisers websites for more details or contact them directly for the latest information.

In the meantime why not put your training to good use and take on a solo challenge to raise money to help look after the Coast Path. Find out more here.

Published on: March 29, 2021