Can you still go swimming during the UK coronavirus lockdown?

Jack de Menezes
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The British Government’s decision to lockdown the UK in response to the coronavirus outbreak has seen many left wondering what they can and can’t do as their one piece of exercise each day.

The first day of lockdown Britain saw police having to split apart games of football and cricket, while all golf courses have been shut in an effort to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Many have turned to exercise to occupy their time after being told on Monday by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to remain at home apart from essential travel, with all of those able to work from home told to do so and avoid seeing friends, family and occupants of other households to stop coronavirus spreading from home to home.

Under the updated guidelines, people can exercise no more than once a day which includes running or walking with people in your own house, such as partners, children or housemates.

But many have asked whether they can perform basic tasks such as swimming, climbing and playing tennis, with individual governing bodies issuing instructions on what can and can’t be completed.



Can I go swimming indoors?

On Friday 20 March, Boris Johnson announced plans to close all pubs, bars, restaurants and leisure centres, which includes all indoor swimming facilities. As a result, all swimming venues were already closed by the time Johnson announced the full UK lockdown on Monday.

What about swimming outdoors?

Many believe that swimming outdoors, such as in rivers, lakes and the seas, is permitted as long as you swim individually. This is not true.

A Swim England spokesperson said: “We have spoken to Public Health England and open water swimming is an activity that is not currently permitted – the only forms of exercise allowed at this time are walking, running or cycling.​”

What has Swim England said?

Chief executive Jane Nickerson said after Johnson announced the closure of all leisure centres: “As a lifelong swimmer who is passionate about our wonderful sports, it is a very sad day to see the nation’s pools closed.

“However, the nation’s health and wellbeing is of paramount importance to us and in this unprecedented situation, it’s important everyone follows the guidance to help combat the spread of coronavirus

“To help everyone who takes part in aquatic activity keep physically and mentally fit and active, we will be sending out training plans and advice over the coming weeks.

“We will also be releasing some free online CPD opportunities for our teachers and coaches alongside other helpful resources, including some additional live webinars.

“The chancellor has also pledged to help companies keeping on retained workers by paying up to 80 per cent of salaries – and we will look into how the measures he announced will also support our self-employed teachers, coaches and tutors.

“These are challenging times but everyone at Swim England is there to support and do our very best for our clubs, members, workforce and volunteers to ensure we come out of this much stronger.”

A Swim England spokesman added: “With pools closed across the country as well, we know this is a frustrating situation for our swimmers and those who take part in all aquatic activity.

“However, the restrictions are currently in place for a very important reason and we’d urge all our members to ensure they abide by the Government guidelines, stay at home and avoid public gatherings to help combat the spread of coronavirus.

“We are working on a number of training plans which will cover psychology, coaching, nutrition, lifestyle plus strength and conditioning to ensure our athletes across all our disciplines can stay fit and healthy – both mentally and physically – without having to leave their homes.”

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