Matt Hancock warns that exercise rules might be tightened
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced tough new lockdown restrictions on England on January 4. In his address, Mr Johnson acknowledged the coming weeks and months would be “the hardest yet”, but adding light at the end of the tunnel, he said the country was entering “the last phase of the struggle”. During the first two national lockdowns, exercise provided an essential lifeline to many who were stuck in small, city flats and room shares, and things remain the same the third time around. Health Secretary Matt Hancock confirmed on January 11 that exercise rules wouldn’t be scrapped after ministers were reportedly considering implementing harsher restrictions.
Mr Hancock stressed that this means only exercising with one other person, spaced two metres apart, and groups are “not acceptable”.
But the Health Secretary stressed that if the situation doesn’t improve, the rules may need to be reviewed, saying: “A flex to the rules can be fatal.
“If people push the boundaries of these rules or do not take them seriously, that can lead to more cases and that can lead to more deaths.
“We keep these things under review and we have demonstrated that we are willing to tighten the rules if they need to be tightened.”
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How long can you exercise for in lockdown?
Under the new rules, people are still able to head outdoors for exercise purposes.
However, this is strictly limited to two people, either members of the same household or one member of another household with which they have a support bubble.
The guidelines don’t give a time limit for how long you can spend outside exercising, but it should be kept to once a day and undertaken locally.
If you’re in doubt about how long to be out for, it’s best to keep your workout short.
Just as in previous lockdowns, police officers have the power to issue fines and dispersal orders if people are caught breaking the rules.
All amateur sports are now banned, including outdoor games such as golf and tennis, as well as children’s sport.
These restrictions are more stringent than the ones set out in Tier 4, which allowed outdoor sports courts, gyms and swimming pools to keep their doors open.
Unlike the first lockdown in March, outdoor play areas will stay open, so parents can go and get some fresh air with their kids.
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Can I drive to exercise?
In short, no, you shouldn’t be driving anywhere to go and exercise.
The new guidelines state exercise should be on a local basis only, and travel is only allowed for absolutely essential reasons.
While exercise is essential, it can be done anywhere which is why the guidance advises against travelling.
The Government’s official advice says it “should be done locally wherever possible, but you can travel a short distance within your area to do so if necessary (for example, to access an open space)”.
The Department for Health and Social Care said: “The term ‘local area’ in this context has not been legally defined.
“However, people should be sensible about this – if you do leave home for a permitted reason, you should stay local in the village, town or part of the city where you live – unless there is a justifiable reason not to do so (for example, you need to travel further for work or to avoid harm).”
But, again, there is some confusion towards the rules after a spokesman for the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) told ITV News the coronavirus laws don’t restrict the distance you can exercise.
So technically, you can go for a nice long bike ride or jog and still be within the rules.
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