Keep as active as you can, says government as lockdown changes in England kick in

New rules include being able to exercise with one person who is not in your household

The government is urging people in England to keep as active as they can, with changes to lockdown rules which including allowing people to exercise with one person from outside their household come into effect.

Other changes announced to guidance introduced in late March in response to the coronavirus pandemic include being able to take unlimited exercise each day – something already permitted according to the letter of the regulations – and being allowed to sunbathe or have a picnic in parks and on beaches.

Outdoor sports facilities such as golf courses and tennis and basketball courts are also allowed to reopen, subject always to the rule that you exercise alone or with members of your household, and as of today, one person from a different household and social distancing rules.

We assume that cycling facilities such as outdoor velodromes and closed road circuits will remain closed, but are checking with British Cycling.

Another major change is that people can now travel as far as they like within England to take exercise, including cycling – though guidance is to avoid public transport and to travel by private vehicle or by bike.

People are encouraged to go to beaches, the countryside and National Parks – although the government says that in the case of the latter, people should check guidance on visiting specific locations in advance of travelling; as we reported yesterday, some, such as the Peak District, are telling people to stay away.

> Stay away! Non-locals told not to visit beauty spots across England for exercise despite lockdown restrictions being eased

The government adds that people cannot go on holiday, visit or stay overnight at a holiday or second home, or visit homes friends and family, except to help a  vulnerable person, for medical reasons, or to take a child to another household with which parental responsibilities are shared.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “Sport and exercise has huge benefits for our physical and mental health, which is why we need everyone to stay as active as possible.

“Allowing unlimited outdoor exercise will be welcome news to many, but it remains absolutely vital that everyone practices strict social distancing whilst playing sport to keep themselves and others safe."

Police throughout England will continue to monitor compliance with the regulations, with enforcement through issuing fines only being used as a last resort.

Martin Hewitt, a former assistant commissioner at the Metropolitan Police and now chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, said: “The efforts of the public mean police officers have rarely had to enforce the Government regulations so far. 

“I am confident the vast majority will continue to do their bit and follow guidance in this next stage.

“We are all now able to spend much more time outdoors and each of us need to take responsibility for doing that within the social restrictions set out by the Government.

“Our approach will continue use common sense and discretion, and to engage, explain, encourage and, only as a last resort, enforce.”

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has today published a guide on design principles for safer urban and green spaces, aimed at owners and operators of public spaces in England, and which cites the temporary closure to motor vehicles of Manchester’s Deansgate and a pop-up cycle lane in Leicester as examples of best practice.

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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