On Jan 4, the Prime Minister announced tough new restrictions, bringing England into its third national lockdown. In his address, Boris Johnson said that the weeks ahead would be the “hardest yet” but added that he believed the country was entering “the last phase of the struggle”.
During the first two national lockdowns, exercise was a saving grace for many people stuck inside their homes – so questions remain over whether it is allowed this time around.
As part of the new guidelines, you are allowed to exercise outdoors with one other person outside of their household, although this should be limited to once a day and performed locally. This means two people may go for a walk together, but may not sit on a bench for a drink, it is understood.
Matt Hancock confirmed on Jan 11 that the exercise rule would not be scrapped after ministers were reported to be considering tightening restrictions. He stressed that this means only one other person, spaced two meters apart, and groups are “not acceptable.”
But Mr Hancock said if people continue to break the rules, then they may need to be reviewed, before stressing: “A flex to the rules can be fatal.
“If people push the boundaries of these rules or do not take them seriously, that can lead to more cases and that can lead to more deaths.
“We keep these things under review and we have demonstrated that we’re willing to tighten the rules if they need to be tightened,” he told the press conference.
However, under the new restrictions gyms will remain closed meaning many of us might be turning to at home workouts once more.
Here’s what the new exercise rules mean in practice…
What are the new rules?
Under the new rules, people still have access to outdoor exercise. However, this has to be with members of their household, or one member of another household. The guidelines don’t give a time limit for how long you can exercise for, but it should be kept to once a day and undertaken locally. If in doubt, it’s best to keep your workout short. As in previous lockdowns, the police will have powers to issue fines or dispersal orders if people are caught flouting the rules.
All amateur sports are now banned, including outdoor games such as golf and tennis, as well as children’s sport. These restrictions are tougher than those set out in Tier 4, which had instructed indoor gyms and sports facilities to close, but allowed any outdoor sports courts, gyms, swimming pools, archery driving and shooting ranges, riding arenas to remain open.
Unlike the first lockdown in March, outdoor playgrounds will remain open. Those in elite sports teams and their coaches, as well as parents of athletes aged under 18, are still permitted to gather in order to compete and train.
Outdoor spaces where you’re allowed to exercise include neighbourhood streets, parks, beaches, and the countryside, public gardens and grounds (whether or not you pay to enter them), allotments and outdoor playgrounds. However, gyms and indoor workout spaces are closed under the new guidelines.