COVID-19: How far can you go for exercise during lockdown? Clarity urged after Boris Johnson’s bike ride | UK News
Boris Johnson was spotted cycling seven miles from Downing Street, raising questions as to how far you can go for exercise under lockdown rules.
Government guidance states that people in England should “stay local” when leaving home, which is only allowed for a few essential reasons, including exercise once a day and shopping for basic necessities.
It adds: “Stay local means stay in the village, town, or part of the city where you live.”
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What was the PM seen doing?
The PM was seen cycling at the Olympic Park in east London on Sunday, the Evening Standard reported – seven miles from his home in Westminster, and three boroughs away.
Number 10 has refused to reveal whether he cycled there or was driven to the park to cycle.
A spokesman added: “The PM has exercised within the COVID rules and any suggestion to the contrary is wrong.”
Does this mean everyone can exercise seven miles from home?
Cycling seven miles and back would not be too long a ride for many cyclists.
But, without a specific distance limit in the rules, this appears to have allowed for different interpretations.
Derbyshire Police were criticised over the weekend for fining two women £200 for driving five miles from home, separately, to go for a walk.
They have now dropped the fine and apologised to the women, but that – and now the PM’s cycling – has led to a debate over the guidance.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick said Mr Johnson’s bike ride was not against the law.
However, she told the BBC “local” is a “relative term” and, for her, means “if you can, go for your exercise from your front door and come back to that front door”.
Former Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron’s constituency is in the Lake District, where he said police are reporting that people have been travelling hundreds of miles to reach the beauty spot – but he also has constituents asking if they will be fined for driving five minutes to a local park.
He said he has written to the PM calling for clearer guidance on exercise.
‘Shouldn’t he stay in Westminster?’
With the rules stating you should stay in your village, town, or part of the city, the PM’s seven-mile trip has come under fire.
However, with villages being smaller than towns and parts of cities, does that mean people living in villages have a smaller radius of where they can exercise?
Labour has criticised Mr Johnson’s cycle ride, with Hammersmith MP Andy Slaughter saying: “Once again it is ‘do as I say, not as I do’, from the prime minister.”
And a woman who said she saw the PM in the Olympic Park, said she was “shocked to see him cycling around looking so care-free”.
She told the PA news agency: “Also, considering he’s advising everyone to stay at home and not leave their area, shouldn’t he stay in Westminster and not travel to other boroughs?”
What are the rules in the UK’s other nations?
The country is under Level 4 – equivalent to England’s lockdown – with the guidance saying there are no limits on the distance you can travel during exercise, “though the nearer you stay to home, the better”.
It says you should start and finish from your home.
But, like in England, there have been incidents where people have been fined for exercising too far from home.
On Saturday, a mother was fined for driving 17 miles to Aber Falls in Snowdonia National Park, where she said there were hardly any other people.
She said she believed she had been following the rules and thought it was better than walking down to the beach near her home, where she said there were about 40 families the following day.
The mainland and Skye are under a Level 4 lockdown, which states that you can travel for exercise that starts and finishes at the same place.
But the rules are more specific as they say the place where you start and finish “can be up to five miles from the boundary of your local authority area”.
So, as long as you know exactly where the boundary of your local authority area is, you are within the rules if you remain five miles from there.
The rules are slightly more clear in Northern Ireland, which is under a six-week lockdown that started on Boxing Day.
It says you should not travel more than 10 miles from your home to exercise.
If there are crowds when you arrive at the place you want to exercise from, you should find an alternative place, the rules add.
However, it does not say how far you can walk or cycle from that place.