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The Mountain Bothy Association has reopened all its 100 remote shelters for walkers across Scotland, which includes many in Argyll, Lochaber, Skye and the Outer Hebrides, following the lifting of coronavirus restrictions in the country on August 9.
The bothies were closed in March 2020 at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. ‘Following the lifting of most statutory restrictions and with the agreement of bothy owners, the bothies that we maintain in Scotland and Wales have been reopened for responsible use,’ the association announced. ‘Bothies in England reopened on 19 July following the lifting of restrictions there.’
The chairman of the Mountain Bothy Association (MBA) chairman, Simon Birch, said: ‘Since the start of the Covid 19 pandemic, we have adopted the position that our shelters are closed and we would like to thank all those responsible MBA members and the general public who have complied with that request.
‘Covid-19 has not gone away and governments are advising that everyone should remain vigilant and continue to take precautions to stop the further spread of the virus. We are therefore asking bothy users to make their own risk assessment before deciding to visit and to exercise personal responsibility while they are there. We are also asking that they follow some straightforward guidelines. By doing so they will protect both themselves and others.’
The guidelines ask that visitors to bothies:
- Make themselves aware of, and follow, all current Government health guidelines.
- Do not set off to visit a bothy if they have symptoms. We recommend that they also take a lateral flow test even if they don’t have symptoms.
- Always take a tent and consider using it to sleep in if others are present.
- Take and use personal PPE, i.e. face masks and sanitising fluid.
- Ventilate the building by opening windows and doors (while remembering to shut the door when they leave).
- When leaving the bothy, take with them everything that they have brought in, including rubbish, so that the potential to leave the virus on the surface of bothy discard is eliminated.
- Follow the bothy code and always be respectful, courteous, and tolerant of others.
The stalking season in Scotland has started and visitors to bothies are asked to show discretion regarding access.
The MBA is a charity, established in 1965, and with around 4,300 members. With the consent and support of their owners, it undertakes the restoration and maintenance of old cottages, huts and similar buildings for use as open shelters for outdoor enthusiasts. It currently maintains 103 bothies and two emergency shelters, 84 in Scotland, 12 in northern England and nine in Wales.