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Priti Patel says people should exercise alone... but Downing Street contradicts minister

April Roach
·3 min read
<p>Priti Patel said people should exercise alone when outdoors</p> (ITV’s This Morning)

Priti Patel said people should exercise alone when outdoors

(ITV’s This Morning)

Priti Patel has said people should exercise alone despite the official Government guidance allowing activity with a friend.

Ministers have been asked to clarify the coronavirus restrictions on exercise after the Prime Minister faced criticism for cycling seven miles from Downing Street in Stratford.

According to the Government guidance, people are allowed to exercise outdoors with one other person from a different household.

Asked whether the rules were clear, Ms Patel told ITV’s This Morning: “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.”

The Home Secretary said: “Cycling is fine, because you are on your own, you should not be cycling with other cyclists.

Priti Patel during a media briefing in Downing Street, London on WednesdayPA
Priti Patel during a media briefing in Downing Street, London on WednesdayPA

“Running, exactly in the same way because you are on your own, walking on your own.”

Ms Patel was later contradicted by Downing Street.

The Prime Minister’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.”

He pointed towards Mr Johnson saying earlier this week that he will introduce tougher measures if necessary but that “early signs” of progress in reducing the number of coronavirus infections are being seen.

“We obviously continue to keep an eye on the latest data and the latest scientific information and we’ll take action where we deem it is necessary,” the spokesman said.

Ms Patel’s comments marked the second time this week that she appeared to have got the rules wrong.

At a Downing Street press conference, the Witham MP said that “outdoor recreation” is permitted in a “restricted and limited way” – despite it being prohibited during the lockdown.

Aides said she misspoke and meant to say exercise rather than recreation.

On This Morning she said runners were not required to wear a mask after being shown footage of a Covid marshal stopping a jogger for breathing heavily.

“We are clear in the rules that you can exercise on a daily basis but not socialise,” she said.

“You can’t run and wear a mask, that’s not practical and that’s not sensible.”

The guidance produced by the Government says people can exercise outdoors on their own, with their household or support bubble, in a childcare bubble where providing childcare or – if alone – with one person from another household.

The Home Secretary again defended the Prime Minister’s bike ride in the Olympic Park.

“If you are in a London borough, London boroughs are big places in terms of cycling and walking,” she said.

But when it was pointed out Mr Johnson went out of Westminster, Ms Patel said: “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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