Jamie Cook, Angling Trust chief executive, reminded anglers to ‘stay safe, stay home’.
The advice followed questions over the legality of fishing now and during the difficult coronavirus ‘lockdown’ weeks ahead.
The permitted exercise and travel information issued by the Government was questioned by participants of many outdoor pursuits that are undertaken in a largely solitary way.
Many anglers from all disciplines were hoping to continue to isolate themselves safely, with social distancing, in the great outdoors.
There has, however, been a huge wave of support for the ‘stay at home’ message, and a wide range of top anglers have got behind it. Some anglers still want to fish on well away from other people.
The latest message to anglers
In an update issued on Friday, March 27, Jamie said: “The Angling Trust, alongside a number of other Sport England governing bodies, has been in contact with the Sports Minister at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
“The Minister thanked the sports sector for its united and professional response to minimising risk, saving lives and supporting our NHS.
“He stated that the guidance should be taken in the spirit it was delivered. Namely, to stay at home, stay safe and to avoid all but essential travel.
“He reaffirmed that now was not the time to be seeking loopholes and that the prescribed activities were clear – as a result those sports which were still advising activity have updated their policies not to participate and follow the government’s guidelines.”
What the trust is doing now
Jamie continued: “We have had thousands of visits to our dedicated COVID 19 information hub and the phone lines have not stopped ringing since we launched.
“The Angling Trust is here to support the entire community and will next week be delivering dedicated content alongside partners to help all anglers maintain the fishing habit and as much as possible bring the ethos of the sport we love into your homes.
“In recognition of the need to support both physical health and mental wellbeing, Sport England have launched their Join the Movement campaign and to support this the Angling Trust will be introducing further resources across the coming weeks. If anyone has content they would like to share please email firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Thanks for angling's quick action
“I want to personally thank anglers, angling clubs and fisheries for taking strong and decisive action in the face of an unprecedented public health challenge,” said Jamie.
“We have come together as a community and your support has been nothing short of fantastic.
“I understand the frustration – as I look out of the window I like to think I know where the fish would be on my favourite waters and what tactics I would use to trick them.
“Fortunately we anglers practice patience like very few others and this situation is simply more important. And it is that patience we have to show now by remaining strong and doing the right thing.
“I thank you for doing your bit in staying inside, saving lives and supporting our NHS,” added Jamie.
Sweeping restrictions to stop spreading
The mood of the UK took a turn after the Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced sweeping new travel, social and shopping restrictions on Monday, March 23.
After Monday’s big announcement, fisheries, clubs and tackle shops made the heart-breaking move to temporarily close. The canal controllers, the Canal and River Trust, also suspended angling on all their waterways.
A few days later Mr Johnson confirmed that he, too, had been tested positive for coronavirus. The Government heath secretary, Matt Hancock, has also contracted it.
The Government’s main message to limit the spread of coronavirus is a clear one: ‘Stay at home.’
The latest advice from the NHS includes stating clearly that ‘everyone must stay at home to help stop the spread of coronavirus.’
The NHS says you should only leave the house for one of these four reasons:
- shopping for basic necessities, for example food and medicine, which must be as infrequent as possible.
- one form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle – alone or with members of your household.
- any medical need, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person.
- travelling to and from work, but only where this absolutely cannot be done from home.
And the NHS also stresses this point: “These four reasons are exceptions – even when doing these activities, you should be minimising time spent outside of the home and ensuring you are 2 metres apart from anyone outside of your household.”
Before Boris Johnson’s ‘lockdown’ announcement, even the Angling Trust had been keen for anglers to fish on… provided they did it safely, with social distancing.
Now the message the Trust’s stance is simple: ‘Stay safe, stay home’.
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