‘Keep us fishing’ is the Christmas message to Government ministers from the Angling Trust following the refusal of the Health Secretary, Saijid Javid, to rule out further Covid restrictions or even a fourth lockdown as is occurring right now in parts of Europe.
Angling Trust CEO Jamie Cook has written to senior members of the Government, including Michael Gove and the Secretaries of State for Environment, the Cabinet Office and Culture, Media and Sport, to remind them of how angling continued successfully and safely through the last two lockdowns and to press for similar treatment should new restrictions be introduced.
Speaking to the BBC on Sunday morning, the Health Secretary made clear that he did not rule out new coronavirus measures before Christmas – saying there are “no guarantees” in the pandemic.
In his letter to ministers, Jamie Cook said of previous lockdowns:
“We were pleased that the Government agreed to permit and encourage individual outdoor recreation to continue so that those who were initially restricted in the first lockdown could once again participate in individual, socially distanced outdoor recreational activity. This delivered huge benefits to those whose recreation is not narrowly confined to running, walking or cycling. Experience has shown that socially distanced outdoor recreation such as angling is a safe and responsible activity and that its continuation does not contribute to the spread of infection.”
“Whatever decisions you have to make in the coming weeks we urge you to allow angling to continue for all the reasons set out above and in the attached report. We stand ready to guide our sport through these difficult times in a safe and responsible manner as we have done throughout.”
Back in February, as the government prepared its stepped approach to easing lockdown provisions, the Angling Trust submitted it’s ‘Fishing out of Lockdown’ paper outlining the advantages of keeping people engaged in angling and the measures that were taken to keep people safe and to ensure that our sport delivers economic and social benefits and makes a significant contribution to improving mental health outcomes.
The paper, which has been resubmitted to ministers, outlines other reasons for permitting angling to continue including:
- a largely solitary sport where social distancing occurs naturally
- proven benefits for mental health and physical well-being
- appealing to people of all ages and backgrounds
- evidence that non-contact outdoor activities will not increase infection rates
- a reduction in pressure on other public open spaces
Martin Salter, Head of Policy at the Angling Trust said:
“Angling has proved both popular and beneficial throughout this dreadful pandemic with more people getting closer to nature and enjoying a safe, healthy and naturally socially distanced activity within Covid secure guidelines. While other sports like golf were locked down, anglers were able to get out in the open air presenting no risk to themselves or anyone else. The Angling Trust is determined to do what we can to ensure that this remains the case through the difficult period that lies ahead.”