Hiking on the Canary Islands in times of Corona and Lockdown

UPDATE 24.5.20: Phase 2 Lockdown – and still no hiking or may be yes

On Monday all Canary Islands will now enter the second phase of the return to normality. But unfortunately this is still not connected with the fact – as partly reported in the press – that hiking is allowed. For me not comprehensible and certainly not to justify with protection against corona viruses, private hiking is still prohibited. Beaches and restaurants will be opened. But the Spanish government does not want to allow hikers on hiking trails.
The legal basis is article 5.5 of the decree of the Ministry of Health SND/440/2020 of 23 May 2020 (https://www.boe.es/diario_boe/txt.php?id=BOE-A-2020-5265). In accordance with the provisions of article 47 of Decree SND/399/2020 of 9 May, active tourism and nature activities for groups of up to twenty people can be carried out under the same conditions as those set out in this article.

On 24.05.2020, the Minister of Health announced that, contrary to the wording of the BOE, hiking should also be possible without a guide. Phase 2 now remains to be awaited with great confusion.

From absolute lockdown to phase 1

Since 15 March 2020, Spain, and thus also the Canary Islands, have been in a state of alert. Among many other restrictions, there was an absolute obligation to stay at home from this day on. Exits were only allowed to go shopping or to the doctor or pharmacist. Exercise, sports or even hiking was not possible at all. The Spanish government imposed an absolute lockdown. Of course, the hiking trails were also closed and hiking on the islands was not possible. Then, on May 3rd, the islands, on which there were hardly and little cases of corona, were allowed to enter the so-called Phase 1 . That is a part of the Spanish government’s plan “back to normality”. These islands El Hierro, La Gomera and La Graciosa were followed eight days later on 11 May 2020 by the remaining Canary Islands in Phase 1. 

Phase 0, in which the other Canary Islands were in between 3 and 11 May 20, was already accompanied by a little more freedom of movement. Thus, from 6-10 o’clock in the morning and from 20-23 o’clock in the evening, it was possible to do sports from home. Athletes could walk, run or cycle once a day without leaving the boundaries of their “municipios” (municipal district). All other people could also go for a walk at certain times during phase 0. This was especially important for the children, who had been locked up at home for more than seven weeks until then. 

signpost - forbidden path - now everywhere

What happens in phase 1 with movement and walking?

With phase 1, which has now begun for all islands on 11 May 2020, driving a car is again permitted on the entire island on certain occasions (family visits, shopping). As shops, bars and restaurants may be opened again on a small scale, it is still possible to walk there. However, there are no changes in sports times and conditions in phase 1.

On the 11th of May 2020, the Environmental and Safety Management Department of the Island of Tenerife issued regulations that define precisely which outdoor activities are permitted in Tenerife for Phase 1. I have not yet found out whether there are similar regulations for the other islands. But I assume that it is handled similarly there. If any reader knows more, I would be glad about any hint. And with me probably the people who would like to go hiking on the respective islands.

Anaga landscape - ideal place to go hiking

Regulations for hiking in Tenerife in phase 1

I have summarized the most important regulations for hikers here in brief:

1. the recreation and camping sites managed by the Cabildo will remain closed indefinitely until full freedom of movement for people is restored and monitoring, river control and hygiene conditions in these infrastructures can be guaranteed for the new normality

4. it is not allowed to go into the forest to pick mushrooms.

6. people can go into the forest to go to terraces of bars or restaurants open to the public.

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7. active and nature tourism companies can offer their services and carry out their activities on the paths and trails in the mountains and protected natural areas and in the natural environment in general for groups of maximum 10 people and under the conditions established in Decree SND/399/2020 of 9 May. They must have the approval of the Cabildo if this is provided for in the plan. To take part in this activity, participants may travel to the starting point in their own vehicle or that of the company.

8. physical activity (sports and walks) will be possible on the official network of paths and forest trails, strictly under the conditions established in the above-mentioned Decree SND/380/2020 of the Ministry of Health of 30 April. Individuals will therefore be allowed to walk on foot on the paths and trails and ride a bicycle or horse on the latter, but under no circumstances with motorised vehicles. It is made clear that it is not permitted to drive motorised vehicles from your place of residence to the paths or forest tracks and that you may not leave the municipality in which you live.

If you want to read the whole regulation, you can find it here

Instrucción sobre actividades permitidas en el medio natural de Tenerife

What does this mean in concrete terms for hikers in Tenerife during phase 1?

Hiking guides and hiking companies can resume their activities and go hiking commercially with a maximum of 10 people. If such a tour is booked, the persons may also travel to the arranged meeting point by car or the company’s car. 

All other persons may only use the hiking trails during the permitted sports hours (6-10 a.m. or 20-23.00 p.m.). As it is not permitted to travel to the hiking area by car, only local hiking trails that can be reached on foot from home can be used. This means that private hiking is in fact only possible from the front door. Those who can’t reach a hiking trail in the time available are out of luck.

climbing woman - not possible in phase 1

And finally

As there are probably almost no tourists on the island, there will not be many customers for the many hiking companies. Privately it is possible to walk a little on the local hiking trails early in the morning or late in the evening. Hiking during the day or by car is not possible, at least in Tenerife in phase 1.

There might be reasons for such a hiking restriction, but I find it difficult to recognize them. If you are in Germany, Austria or Switzerland, in Scandinavia or any other country, you will enjoy the freedom to go hiking in nature. Here this freedom is not given at the moment. As soon as something should change, I will gladly inform you. Have fun on your hikes,

Dagmar of Seven Islands

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