One of the small reprieves people have from the “stay-at-home” regulations is getting to exercise once a day, as long as you stick to social distancing measures and don’t go out in large groups.
However the clarity of the rules was called into question after two women received £200 fixed penalty notices after travelling to a reservoir for a walk around five miles from their homes.
The pair were told by officers the beauty spot was not local to them and the takeaway coffees they were clutching were not allowed as they were classed as a picnic.
The fines have now been rescinded and Derbyshire Police have apologised to the two women, but the incident prompts a number of questions about the rules exercise we at The Independent have answered below:
How far can you travel for exercise?
The National Lockdown guidelines state that exercise “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).”
This definition doesn’t offer a lot of help on specific distances, but a comment from the Department of Health and Social Care earlier this week gives a better indication.
They 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).”
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However there is a slight divergence between what the government says and what police are able to enforce under the Covid-19 regulations.
A spokesman for the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) told ITV News that the coronavirus laws do not restrict the distance you can exercise.
So technically, you can go for a nice long bike ride or run (if you want to), and stay within the rules.
An NPCC spokesperson told ITV News: “Police officers will be inquisitive about why people are out of their homes and will explain the regulations and encourage people to comply. Where people are breaching the regulations and are away from home without a reasonable excuse, they may be issued with a FPN (Fixed Penalty Notice).
“In situations where people are breaching the guidance not to travel out their local area but are not breaching regulations, officers will encourage people to follow the guidance.”
Can you go for a walk with a friend?
Yes, you are able to go for a walk with a friend under the current restrictions as long as you abide by social distancing.
After some confusion about the rules Matt Hancock said at a press conference on Monday that you are allowed to meet one friend at the park, but people should be exercising “not socialising.”
He said at the moment people were meeting in larger groups and kept “flexing” the rules.
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Mr Hancock added: “If too many people keep breaking this rule, then we are going to have to look at it. But, I don’t want to do that because, for many people being able to go for a walk with a friend, that often is their only social contact.
“It is OK to go for a walk with one other person around a park, but you should stay two metres apart from that other person.”
Can you have a takeaway coffee or tea?
Yes you are allowed to visit a cafe or takeaway as long as you abide by the rules in any other shop by wearing a mask and keeping at least two metres apart.
A spokesman for No10 said: “Takeaways are allowed, or restaurants, or cafes are allowed to provide takeaways.
“People are allowed to leave their homes if it’s for exercise, not socialising.”
The Prime Minister has urged people to be cautious and stick to the rules when they are out at shops and going for exercise.
Speaking during a visit to a vaccine centre in Bristol on Monday, he said: “In supermarkets people need to be keeping their distance, making sure that they’re wearing masks, doing the right thing.
“We need to enforce the rules in supermarkets.
“When people are getting takeaway drinks, in cafes, then they need to avoid spreading the disease there, avoid mingling too much.”