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Boris Johnson has come under fire after he was spotted cycling in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic park in east London on Sunday, seven miles away from his Downing Street residence. Andy Slaughter, Labour MP for Hammersmith in London, accused the prime minister of failing to lead by example by exercising so far from home, but sources at No 10 insisted no rules had been broken.
What exactly are the rules for outdoor exercise?
The rules announced on 4 January for the third national lockdown in England state you are allowed to leave your home to exercise, but this should be limited to once a day and you should not travel outside your local area to do it.
When exercising outside you can do so alone, with the people you live with, with your support bubble or with one person from another household.
However, you must stay 2 metres apart from anyone not in your household or support bubble (or, if not possible, a metre apart with extra precautions like face coverings).
Exercise includes, but is not limited to, running, cycling, walking, and swimming. Personal training can continue one-on-one, unless everyone is within the same household or support bubble.
Where are you allowed to exercise?
The rules state you are allowed to exercise in public outdoor places such as parks, beaches, countryside, public gardens, the grounds of a heritage site and playgrounds.
Outdoor sports venues such as tennis courts, golf courses and swimming pools, however, must close.
But as Matt Hancock emphasised during a Downing Street press conference on Monday evening, wherever you go to exercise, it must be local.
What classes as “local”?
This is the crucial bit of information missing from the government rules and which has caused quite a bit of confusion over the past few days.
Last week two women were fined by Derbyshire police for travelling to a reservoir around five miles away from where they lived, with officers at the time saying they could have stayed closer to home. The force has since apologised and rescinded the fines, following further guidance from the National Police Chiefs’ Council.
During Monday’s press conference, Hancock – in what seemed to be a deliberate reference to the prime minister’s bike ride – said: “If you went for a long walk and ended up seven miles away from home, that is OK.
“But, you should stay local, you should not go from one side of a country to another, potentially taking the virus with you.”
What about driving to get to where you exercise?
While most people might think needing to take a car to get to an activity would suggest you were travelling too far, a Downing Street source stressed this was within the rules. When asked about whether Johnson had gone by car to the Olympic park, the source told the Guardian: “It does not say in the regulations that driving somewhere to take exercise is a breach of the rules. That is not a comment on the PM’s case but the rules only say remain local.”
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Did Boris Johnson’s bike ride bend the lockdown exercise rules? | Boris Johnson