Confusion as Priti Patel says people should exercise alone

Confusion as Priti Patel appears on This Morning and tells viewers they should exercise ALONE despite lockdown rules allowing them to work out with one person from another household

  • The Home Secretary appeared on ITV’s This Morning to talk about the lockdown
  • She told viewers they should be ‘exercising on your own and not socialising’ 
  • England rules allow exercise outside with one person from another household 
  • Source said she was suggesting people use an ‘abundance of caution’ while out 

Priti Patel sparked confusion today as she told the public to exercise alone – in direct contrast to the lockdown rules.

The Home Secretary used an appearance on ITV’s This Morning to tell viewers they should be ‘exercising on your own and not socialising’

The guidance makes clear that in England someone is allowed to exercise outdoors with one other person from a different household.

It comes amid varying interpretations of the rules governing exercise by police forces across the UK, specifically over what constitutes exercise and how far you can travel to do it.

Asked about the rules, Ms Patel told Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby: ‘The clarity is exercising on your own and not socialising.’

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.’

She said ‘cycling is fine, because you are on your own, you should not be cycling with other people’.

Ms Patel continued: ‘Running, exactly in the same way because you are on your own, walking on your own.’

A source later said that the Home Secretary was aware that the rules allowed exercise with one other person but was suggesting people show an ‘abundance of caution’, as it is ‘always best to do things on your own when you can’.

 The Home Secretary used an appearance on ITV’s This Morning to tell viewers they should be ‘exercising on your own and not socialising’

Asked about the rules, Ms Patel told Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby: ‘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.’ 

Ministers are under mounting pressure to clarify exactly how far people can travel for exercise and what they can do amid public and police confusion over ‘woolly’ lockdown rules.

Government advice urges people to stay ‘local’ but does not specify a distance in law, which has resulted in officers making their own interpretations and incorrectly fining walkers driving just five miles from home. 

And there is also confusion over whether people can legally buy a coffee while they are out, and then contunue walking while drinking it. 

 The lack of concrete rules has left forces across England grappling with lockdown enforcement at a time when ministers are concerned with fraying compliance with the rules.

Yesterday MPs were told police are in discussions with ministers that could see the rules on exercise and travel tightened. 

Owen Weatherill,  from the National Police Chiefs’ Council, who is leading the policing response to the pandemic in England and Wales, said the rules around exercise are ‘a real challenge’.

He told the Home Affairs Committee that more detail should be added to health guidance and lockdown laws to make them clearer to the public.

The Assistant Chief Constable said there was an ‘active discussion’ between police, the Home Office and the Department of Health on how to improve the rules ‘to give greater clarity to the public and also to our officers’. 

No new social distancing restrictions to combat the spread of coronavirus will be introduced ‘today or tomorrow’, Ms Patel said, amid suggestions that tougher measures could be imposed next week.

The Home Secretary was continuing to focus on the enforcement of current lockdown measures in England on Thursday, but did not rule out further restrictions being introduced in the future.

With the NHS under extraordinary pressures, there are concerns that the current restrictions may not be enough to bring the infection rate under control, particularly with the highly-transmissible new variant.

Ministers are reportedly considering tougher measures such as requiring masks to be worn outdoors and only allowing exercise with those within one’s household bubble, but are not planning on introducing these measures until next week at the earliest.

Ms Patel stressed the stay at home message currently in place as ministers focus for now on trying to ensure maximum compliance with the existing regulations.

Asked whether further restrictions could include a three-metre social distancing rule, or the requirement to wear masks outside, she told ITV’s This Morning: ‘The plans are very much to enforce the rules.

‘This isn’t about new rules coming in – we’re going to stick with enforcing the current measures.’

But she did not rule out new measures being announced next week, limiting her comments to: ‘We are not thinking about bringing in new measures today or tomorrow.’

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