COVID-19: Number 10 contradicts Home Secretary Priti Patel over lockdown rules on exercise

Downing Street has contradicted Home Secretary Priti Patel after she claimed people in England should only exercise alone during the current national lockdown.

In a TV interview Ms Patel said people in England should be “exercising on your own” as she tried to provide “clarity” on COVID restrictions.

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“The clarity is exercising on your own and not socialising,” the home secretary told ITV’s This Morning, when asked if the coronavirus rules were clear.

She added: “The point to make about any exercise – yes, it should be local, people exercise differently.

“But exercise on your own and don’t use it for a social meeting.

“There’s a fundamental difference there, because the point about the spread of the virus is that it spreads people to people.

“Cycling is fine, because you are on your own, you should not be cycling with other cyclists.

“Running, exactly in the same way because you are on your own, walking on your own and keeping distance away from people and not going out to socialise. That is absolutely clear.”

However, the government guidance on the current lockdown states that people in England can exercise outdoors once per day in a local public place.

This is either by themselves, or with the people they live with, with their support bubble, with their childcare bubble where providing childcare, or – when on their own – with one person from another household.

The guidance adds: “This includes but is not limited to running, cycling, walking, and swimming.

“Personal training can continue if participants are from the same household or support bubble.

“It can also continue if it is one on one, although this should only take place in a public outdoor place, and not in someone’s private home or garden.”

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Asked about Ms Patel’s comments, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s official spokesman said: “We’ve been clear that if people exercise they can do so with one other person from another household but we’re asking them to socially distance while they’re doing that.”

In her TV interview, Ms Patel also defended Mr Johnson after he was recently spotted cycling seven miles from Downing Street.

Asked what was considered “local” under the COVID rules, Ms Patel said: “If you’re in a London borough then, clearly, London boroughs are big places in terms of cycling and walking.”

When it was highlighted Mr Johnson had left his own London borough, the home secretary added: “London is a big geography in terms of cycling – five miles, 10 miles, many people cycle big distances and that’s normal to them.”

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