Matt Hancock says Boris Johnson was right to go on bike ride 7 miles away from home

James Morris
·Senior news reporter, Yahoo News UK
·2 min read

Watch: Boris Johnson's cycling trip seven miles away from Downing Street was within the rules, health secretary suggests

Health secretary Matt Hancock has suggested Boris Johnson was right to go for a bike ride seven miles from his Downing Street home.

The Evening Standard reported on Monday how the prime minister was spotted cycling around London’s Olympic Park on Sunday afternoon.

England’s national lockdown rules state: “You can leave your home to exercise. This should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area.”

However, “local area” is not defined in the rules.

And, with the government now telling the public to “act like they have the virus” – a message repeated by Hancock himself at Monday’s Downing Street press conference – it has raised questions as to whether Johnson was right to go for the bike ride.

Boris Johnson cycling around the Olympic Park in 2015, when he was mayor of London. He was spotted cycling around the park on Sunday, raising questions about compliance with coronavirus rules. (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Boris Johnson cycling around the Olympic Park in 2015, when he was mayor of London. (PA)

The PM, who was accompanied by security officers, was wearing a face mask, according to the report.

Asked at the briefing if it’s alright to exercise seven miles from your home, as Johnson did, Hancock said: "It is OK to go... if you went for a long walk and ended up seven miles away from home... that is OK.

"But you should stay local. You should not go from one side of the country to another, potentially taking the virus with you.

"It is OK to go for a long walk or cycle ride or exercise, but stay local. Please get out there and take exercise, because it's good for you, good for your mental and physical health.”

Watch: Matt Hancock calls on people to ‘follow the rules’ amid rising COVID hospitalisations

Again, Hancock did not define what “local” means in terms of following the rules.

It comes as two women who were fined £200 after driving five miles to meet for a walk last week had their fines rescinded.

Jessica Allen and Eliza Moore described how they were “treated like criminals” by police as the fines were issued at Foremark Reservoir in Derbyshire.

Under the lockdown rules, two people from separate households are allowed to exercise together.

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Allen and Moore, however, were told the hot drinks they had brought along meant they had broken the rules as they counted as a “picnic”.

Derbyshire Police’s chief constable, Rachel Swann, said the force has now apologised to them after the fines were withdrawn on Monday evening.

However, she noted: “At present there is no clear limit as to how far people can travel to exercise, but government guidance strongly requests people do not leave their local area.”

Watch: What you can and can't do during England's third national lockdown