Outdoor exercise: Government guidelines on exercise – Has outdoor exercise been banned?

Outdoor exercise could be banned if people don’t follow the social distancing rules put in place to stop the spread of coronavirus. Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned the Government would ban “all forms” of outdoor exercise if people continue to refuse to stay at home. As temperatures reached 20C this weekend, people have been spotted outside sunbathing in public parks.

On Saturday, a south London park was closed indefinitely after 3,000 people visited “despite clear advice” not to.

Green spaces and beaches were pictured filled up with people on Saturday, sparking fury.

Mr Hancock said it is “quite unbelievable” people are not staying at home.

The Health Secretary said sunbathing in public spaces was against the Government guidance, and told those who dared to disobey they are putting their own and others’ lives at risk.


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Mr Hancock told the BBC: “We’ve said it’s OK to go for exercise because both the physical and mental health benefits of getting some exercise are really important.

“I don’t want to have to take away exercise as a reason to leave home… if too many people are not following the rules.

“At the moment the vast majority of people are (following the guidance) but people should not break the rules because that will mean that the virus spreads more and then we might have to take further action.”

A number of other countries have banned outdoor exercise in a bid to slow the spread of the highly infectious disease.

What are the Government guidelines on exercise?

The Government has announced the following guidelines:

  • stay local and use open spaces near to your home where possible – do not travel unnecessarily
  • you should only go outside alone or with members of your own household
  • keep at least two metres apart from anyone outside your household at all times
  • gatherings of more than two in parks or other public spaces have been banned and the police will enforce this
  • if you have a garden, make use of the space for exercise and fresh air
  • take hygiene precautions when you are outside, and wash your hands as soon as you are back indoors

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The Government has also said people must stay at home as much as possible to reduce the spread of the virus.

But you can also still go outside once a day for a walk, run, cycle.

When doing this you must minimise the time you are out of your home and stay at least two metres away from anyone else that isn’t from your household.

You can use your daily exercise outside to walk your dog provided it is alone or with members of your household.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted his thanks to “everyone who is saving lives by staying at home this weekend”.

He added: ”I know it’s tough, but if we all work together and follow the guidance we will beat coronavirus.”

The latest death toll in the UK reached 4,313 on Saturday, while more than 40,000 have been infected by the virus.

When are you allowed to leave the house?

You should only leave the house for very limited purposes:

  • shopping for basic necessities, for example food and medicine, which must be as infrequent as possible
  • one form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle – alone or with members of your household
  • any medical need, including to donate blood, avoid or escape risk of injury or harm, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person
  • travelling for work purposes, but only where you cannot work from home

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