It is, of course, very important for people to continue with their single daily exercise regime as suggested by the Government and, clearly, the canal towpaths are a valuable part of this. However as we all know, in many parts the paths are narrow and it's very difficult, if not impossible, to maintain the two metre separation rule as advised.
So, to avoid the need for walkers having to either leap into the canal or jump over a hedge thus ensuring that they are two metres away from other people, the Canals and River Trust (CRT) is introducing new rules to minimise the risk to all members of the public using the towpaths.
From midnight tonight a 'One Way' timed system will be in place. For each 30 minutes commencing on the hour, walkers can only walk in a Southerly direction. On the half hour, this changes to walking in a Northerly direction. Walkers will need to ensure that whilst their preferred walking direction is not available, they must either cross over a lock or wait on a bridge, until they can proceed again. Any walkers in between locks at the changeover time must immediately reverse their course.
As most joggers pant excessively, and are thus more likely to pass on the Covid-19 virus, designated hours will be set aside when only joggers can use the towpaths. Again the same rules about travel direction will apply. Also it will be necessary for all joggers to run at the same pace since overtaking will inevitably break current separation rules.
Unfortunately during this time we cannot cater for cyclists and horse-riders, so they are banned during these unprecedented times. Also, to ensure social distancing, all canal-side seats will be temporarily closed and to enforce this they will be surrounded by barbed wire. Under no circumstances will picnicking be allowed along the canal.
The CRT have provide a fleet of drones to their volunteers to ensure that people abide by these new important safety rules. The drones are equipped with a camera, loudspeaker and a searchlight so that instructions/warnings can be given as appropriate, both day and night.
Signs will be introduced, in the coming days, at all access points to the canal detailing these instructions to avoid confusion.