Britons can go on 70 mile bike rides but only sit on benches ‘for a short pause’, should think carefully about meeting a friend for a coffee while walking and must never go to the supermarket without a mask, ministers said today.
Policing Minister Kit Malthouse also accused the public of ‘searching for the loopholes in the law’ by flouting the third national lockdown – comparing it to pubs serving scotch eggs to stay open last year – and insisted that it is the police’s job to scrutinise where people are going and who they are meeting outdoors.
Amid widespread confusion about whether people are allowed to sit on park benches during their daily exercise, No10 sources also told MailOnline a ‘short pause’ during the course of exercise would be ‘reasonable’. However, they stressed it would be unlawful to go out ‘just to sit in public’.
But Mr Malthouse insisted Boris Johnson’s decision to go cycling in the Olympic Park seven miles from Downing Street was ‘within the rules’ and legal, saying the PM’s Sunday ride in east London was fine because ‘local is open to interpretation’.
He said: ‘I understand that this is a sort of scotch egg moment where people are searching for the loopholes and the problems in the law. Unfortunately we can’t legislate for every single dynamic of human existence. If you can get there under your own steam and you are not interacting with somebody … then that seems perfectly reasonable to me’. He also agreed that a 50 to 70 mile bike ride would also be fine in some cases.
It came as Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick said today that police will move ‘swiftly’ to fine people who blatantly ignore coronavirus lockdown rules and said officers in London had issued more than 300 fixed penalty notices in the space of 24 hours for ‘flagrant’ violations of the regulations.
And in a veiled criticism of the PM’s Olympic Park bike ride Dame Cressida Dick said: ‘For me, a reasonable interpretation of that is that if you can go for your exercise from your front door and come back to your front door’, adding: ‘The public are looking to all of us as role models’.
No 10 is yet to confirm if Mr Johnson cycled to the Olympic Park himself or was conveyed to east London by car as some Tory MPs complained that too much power is being handed to police.
Dame Cressida has also asked the Government to enshrine the definition of ‘local’ in law to make it easier to police as it emerged that officers in Devon and Cornwall are even using automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) technology to make sure only essential journeys are being made during lockdown – and hunt down people travelling to second homes.
Hampshire Police are also using drones to watch people visiting the waterfront at Southsea to ensure they are social distancing and not meeting in groups.
As Mr Johnson also warned of tougher Covid-19 curbs if existing restrictions were ignored:
- Labour leads calls for PM to tear up red tape and allow jabs 24/7 amid demands for police, teachers and shift workers to get inoculated after No10 insisted there is no ‘clamour’ for appointments after 8pm;
- Sainsbury’s joins Morrisons as they reinstate bouncers outside supermarkets to challenge people not wearing masks or ignoring social distancing – but security seen failing to enforce it;
- Chaos for thousands of British travellers as the government is STILL yet to reveal what Covid tests tourists need to take before flying to the UK;
- Another 529 virus deaths were recorded yesterday, up from 407 a week earlier, with 46,169 new cases;
Mr Malthouse said Boris Johnson’s decision to go cycling in the Olympic Park seven miles from Downing Street was ‘within the rules’. PM pictured in 2016
Britain’s policing minister said a ride of up to 70 miles is allowed if people get there ‘by their own steam’. Cyclists ride through Greenwich Park last week
Ministers say someone can stop on a park bench – but only for a short while before moving on. Police pictured in St James’ Park on Saturday
So what is defined as local and what is allowed?
Government rules state that ‘you should not travel outside your local area’ for exercise.
However, what does and does not constitute ‘local’ has been up for debate.
At yesterday’s Downing Street press conference, Health Secretary Matt Hancock was asked if Britons were allowed to exercise seven miles from home.
He replied: ‘It is OK to go if you went for a long walk and ended up seven miles from home, that is OK, but you should stay local.’
He added: ‘You should not go from one side of the country to the other, potentially taking the virus with you, because remember one in three people who have the virus don’t know they have it because they don’t have symptoms.
‘It is OK to go for a long walk or a cycle ride or to exercise, but stay local.’
Mr Malthouse also said all supermarkets ‘reassume their responsibility’ and refuse entry to anyone without a face mask and start limiting numbers inside again with flouters facing police fines. But West Yorkshire Police Federation chairman Brian Booth said this morning: ‘We just don’t have the resources to stand at every supermarket’.
Kit Malthouse’s argument that long bike rides are allowed has been undermined by Kerrin Wilson, Assistant Chief Constable of Lincolnshire Police, who said of one local rider going 50 to 60 miles: ‘What you have to understand is if he falls off his bike and is so far away from home , how is he going to get help if he gets a puncture. Other people are potentially being put at risk’.
Despite the confusion over what is and isn’t allowed during the current lockdown, like stopping on a bench or for a takeaway coffee during a walk with a friend, Britain’s most senior police officer said it is ‘preposterous’ that people could be unaware of the need to follow the third national
Met Police chief Dame Cressida Dick said people are still holding house parties, meeting in basements to gamble, and attending unlicensed raves despite rising numbers of
She warned that anyone caught breaking the rules or failing to comply would result in officers ‘moving much more quickly to enforcement action’ and urged the Government to enshrine the definition of ‘local’ in law like in Scotland and Wales.
Mr Malthouse said: ‘Whether there are going to be greater restrictions or not very much depends on the numbers. We are tracking the infection rate.
Senior Tory MP: Police are being handed too much power during lockdown
Conservative MP and former cabinet minister David Davis has told Times Radio its not normal for police to have so much power
‘The difficulty is, I really don’t think that we should be handing quite so much judgmental power to the police force. It’s not normal in this country for policemen to have – it is in others – but not normal in Britain for police to have the power to stop and fine on something which is a sort of judgmental issue.”
He told Aasmah Mir and Stig Abell that the laws are too crude because they weren’t discussed properly by parliament.
‘This has been obvious since March 23, when the law under which this was done, was created by the state, by the government. If you actually give that amount of power to a police officer who’s not an epidemiologist, he’s not a doctor, you know, he’s having to carry out by guess and by God’s judgement, whether this is within or without the rules, and very vague rules at that, then it’s a very bad way to go’.
He added: ‘It’s an inevitable outcome of a very crude piece of law that wasn’t thought through properly in the first place’.
‘We are all, frankly, on tenterhooks to see how the impact of the restrictions that came in on Boxing Day will impact on numbers, particularly in London and the south east.
‘This virus is moving so quickly that government is having to make very, very agile decisions about the way we live our lives.
‘But, as I say, if we are going to make sure that this is the last lockdown – please God it is – we all need to stick by the rules and take it really, really seriously.
‘Unfortunately, we haven’t seen that in some parts of the country from a minority of people who are, frankly, letting the rest of us down.’
Police officers are hoping the public will recognise what ‘local’ means for exercise, said policing minister Kit Malthouse.
When asked whether ‘local’ should be defined in England, he told Times Radio: ‘What we are hoping for is that most people will recognise that local, while it’s open to personal interpretation, does have some implications, ie can you get there under your own steam?
‘We are trying to strike a balance between maintaining compliance with the rules and elements of public consent to what’s happening.
‘I think most people would think that was reasonable.
‘Where there are unreasonable people who are breaking that rule, police are intervening.’
Mr Malthouse has said that all supermarkets should follow in Morrisons’ footsteps to enforce the wearing of masks in stores to prevent the transmission of the virus.
When asked why he thought supermarkets have not done it so far, he told Times Radio: ‘I think that, understandably, following the November lockdown there was an element of release and therefore the person at the door, the sanitation station, the traffic light system, the queues outside obviously receded a bit.
‘What we hope now, and I know all of them will, that they’ll see their responsibility and start to put those things back in place.’
Police use ANPR to track essential journeys in Cornwall and Devon and track people heading to their second homes
Police in Devon and Cornwall are using automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) technology in a bid to enforce Covid-19 regulations.
The force’s chief constable, Shaun Sawyer, said ANPR cameras across the region would be used to make sure that only essential journeys are being made.
Static cameras at the roadside in a number of locations across the area will be used, while every officer in the force also has access to an ANPR app on their devices.
This allows them to access live information about vehicles they pass.
Alison Hernandez, the police and crime commissioner for Devon and Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, said the use of the technology was necessary during England’s third national lockdown.
“Covid is spreading rapidly across the whole of the UK, not least because this new strain of the virus is far more contagious,” she said.
“We need to be doing everything we possibly can to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
‘I was saddened to hear about the reports of hundreds of Covid breaches over the weekend, many of which are understood to be related to second homes.
“As such, I welcome the force’s use of ANPR to monitor vehicle movements and make sure the only journeys being made here are essential ones. Using this technology helps us see where certain vehicles have come from and allows officers to further investigate their reasons for travel.”
When asked whether police should intervene, he said some officers have issued fines in retail settings, adding: ‘What we hope is the vast majority of people, or everybody, will be encouraged to do so by the shop owner.’
Met Police chief Dame Cressida Dick said people are still holding house parties, meeting in basements to gamble, and attending unlicensed raves despite rising numbers of
She warned that anyone caught breaking the rules or failing to comply would result in officers ‘moving much more quickly to enforcement action’.
It comes amid increasing calls for tougher shutdown restrictions, with No10 even considering imposing Chinese-style curfews, outdoor mask mandates and three metre social distancing.
Writing in the
‘We will still be engaging, explaining and encouraging but those who break the rules or refuse to comply where they should without good reason will find officers moving much more quickly to enforcement action.’
The Met Police chief also called on the Government to ensure that police officers are prioritised for the Covid jab as the vaccine is rolled out.
Asked about Covid restrictions and Boris Johnson’s bike ride seven miles from his home, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘I am not going to comment on individual cases. I’m really not.’
Pressed that the Prime Minister is a role model, the police chief said: ‘The public are looking to all of us as role models, for all of us in public life, if you like.
‘What I can say is that it is not against the law. I think that’s implicit.’
Leading members of the
In practice this would change the limit to three metres – nearly 10ft. The drastic proposal came as a furious Matt Hancock denounced individuals who flout social distancing rules.
Speaking at a
He was backed by Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty, who sits on Sage and said it was time to ‘double down’ on Covid curbs – including outdoor contact.
Asked if a three-metre rule would be imposed in England, a Downing Street spokesman said last night: ‘There are no current plans to change social distancing rules. However, everything is kept under review.’
It came as the country recorded a further 529 Covid deaths on Monday – marking a 30 per cent rise on the 407 reported on the same day last week.
It was the deadliest Monday since April 20 when 570 people lost their lives and it marked the worst week for deaths in Britain since the pandemic began. An average of 931 people have lost their lives on each of the past seven days, compared to the highest seven-day average of 920 in April’s first wave.
But, in a positive sign that the UK’s soaring case load may be leveling out, 46,169 people tested positive for the virus – down 20 per cent in a week.
Covid Marshals talk to a cyclist who was sat down on the esplanade at Bournemouth Beach on Sunday
Cyclists have backed the PM’s trip to the Olympic Park saying he was setting a good example to the public
Boris Johnson is under pressure from members of the Sage scientific advisory panel to increase the social distancing gap to stop the spread of coronavirus
The PM was seen cycling around the Olympic Park – seven miles from No 10 – raising questions about whether it broke lockdown rules, or was in the spirit of them
The distance was set at two metres in March after experts said coronavirus was up to ten times more transmissible at one metre than at two. Now experts want the public to maintain the distance on public transport, in supermarket lines and while out and about
Britain yesterday recorded a further 529 Covid deaths – marking a 30 per cent rise on the 407 reported on the same day last week. It is also the deadliest Monday since April 20 when 570 people lost their lives
First day of supermarket crackdown fails as shoppers reveal security guards are NOT ordering them to wear masks – while police say THEY can’t be responsible for enforcing rules in stores
A maskless shopper in Morrisons, south-east London. The woman, who only gave her first name of Gladys said: ‘I had a mask with me but simply forgot’
The supermarket mask crackdown ran into problems from day one today as some shoppers continued refusing to follow the rules.
Sainsbury’s and Morrisons became the first supermarkets to return to the tougher enforcement seen in March by reintroducing bouncers at the door to ensure all customers are wearing face coverings.
In recent months, shoppers have been seen repeatedly flouting the rules by going maskless after many stores ditched guards.
But as alarm bells were sounded by Number 10 and scientists warned that shops were contributing to the rise in cases, supermarkets today declared a new clamp down.
West Yorkshire Police Federation chairman Brian Booth warned this morning that there are not enough officers to enforce mask rules in supermarkets and it was up to the stores themselves to do so.
‘We don’t have enough resources to deal with that,’ he said. ‘Look at how many shops and supermarkets and shops there are in every neighbourhood.
‘If there is an ongoing crime, an assault or danger to someone that must be the priority but we just don’t have the resources to stand at every supermarket.’
Meanwhile, Met Chief Cressida Dick said it was ‘preposterous’ for people to claim they were not aware of the rules.
It comes as Boris Johnson prepares to further strengthen lockdown rules including by limiting outdoor contact.
Sainsbury’s today sent an email to all customers saying guards would ‘challenge’ maskless customers or people shopping in groups.
Morrisons has already reintroduced security at the door and vowed to ban anyone refusing to wear a face covering without a medical exemption.
Shoppers arriving at Morrisons in Peckham, south London were greeted by a security guard instructing them to put on their masks or they would not be allowed in.
One woman who came without her mask was warned that if she did not put it on, she would not be allowed to continue with her shop.
The woman, who only gave her first name of Gladys said: ‘I had a mask with me but simply forgot. I’ve come into the supermarket lots of times before and not put it on, but I think it’s a good thing that they are enforcing this.’
But after putting on her mask, Gladys then lowered it below her mouth as she continued with her shop. She said: ‘I find them too uncomfortable. I don’t see what the fuss is, I’ve got a mask on, it’s just not covering my nose and mouth at the moment.’
As Gladys shopped in the store, she was not challenged about how she was wearing her mask.
The Daily Mail has been told that several members of Sage say the lockdown needs to be even tougher than the first one in March last year.
The idea of a Chinese-style ban on residents leaving their homes was raised at one meeting.
Ministers are furious that some people have been using their right to daily exercise simply as an excuse to meet friends for a coffee in the park.
One source said: ‘If it means limiting people to a single one-hour walk on their own once a week that is what we must do. We cannot let a few selfish idiots put the whole country in danger.’
It is feared that the failure to observe the restrictions is fuelling the number of deaths and risks hospitals becoming overwhelmed.
Increasing the social distancing rule to three metres is seen as one way of stopping the spread of the new variant of the virus, which can be passed on more easily.
Opponents of the move say it would have little impact, cause more confusion and be a logistical nightmare.
Two-metre signs have been painted on pavements across the nation, with similar notices found in tens of thousands of shops, factories, offices and public places.
Changing them all would add to the soaring cost of fighting the pandemic.
Supporters claim the benefit in saving lives and protecting the NHS means the move is worth it. They argue it is a response to the new variant which is thought to be up to be 70 per cent more transmissible.
If it goes ahead it would be the Government’s third policy on social distancing.
The distance was set at two metres in March after experts said coronavirus was up to ten times more transmissible at one metre than at two.
But it was reduced to ‘one metre plus’ in July after the first lockdown – mainly to make it easier for restaurants and cafes to reopen.
A ‘two metre plus’ rule would in practice mean staying three metres apart – nearly 10ft – unless steps were taken to limit the danger of transmission, such as screens.
Social distancing gaps vary around the world.
In China, Hong Kong and Singapore, which were successful in controlling the pandemic, the gap was one metre.
However, they imposed other, far stricter, rules including curfews. Spain and Canada followed the two-metre rule.
The three other home nations have different versions of the two-metre rule.
In Scotland people are advised to keep two metres apart and in Wales they are told to stay two metres apart unless it is not practical, with young children exempt.
The gap in Northern Ireland came down to one metre but is two again.
Professor Paul Hunter of the University of East Anglia said: ‘Risk declines the further you are away from someone.
‘So three metres will reduce risk somewhat compared to two metres – but it is difficult to say how much and whether that would make a big difference. I suspect the main issue is people not sticking to the two-metre rule.’
Mr Hancock warned against trying to ‘push the boundaries’ on exercise, adding: ‘If too many people break this rule we are going to have a look at it. Don’t say you are exercising if really you are just socialising.’
He said the two-metre rule had to be obeyed, not seen ‘as a limit to be challenged’.
Shortly after Mr Hancock’s Downing Street press briefing on Monday, the PM released a short video filmed during his visit to the Ashton Gate vaccination centre in Bristol.
In it, he urged Britons to ‘follow the guidance, stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives’ as Covid continues to spread rapidly in several parts of the country.
Britons shouldn’t ‘lose focus on the pandemic’ as coronavirus is ‘still causing huge, huge problems for our NHS’, Mr Johnson added.
Mr Hancock also used the briefing to defend the PM after he was spotted cycling in the Olympic Park seven miles from Downing Street in apparent breach of government advice.
The Health Secretary said it is allowed to cycle that distance from where you live to take exercise, despite also insisting that people must ‘stay local’.
But he also warned that rules on two people from different households being able to exercise outdoors together could be torn up if people keep abusing them.
‘If too many people keep breaking this rule we are going to have to look at it but I don’t want to do that,’ Mr Hancock told a No10 briefing yesterday evening.
What are the government’s rules on taking exercise?
You should minimise time spent outside your home, but you can leave your home to exercise.
This should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area.
You can exercise in a public outdoor place:
- by yourself
- with the people you live with
- with your support bubble (if you are legally permitted to form one)
- in a childcare bubble where providing childcare
- or, when on your own, with one person from another household
This includes but is not limited to running, cycling, walking, and swimming.
Personal training can continue one-on-one unless everyone is within the same household or support bubble.
Public outdoor places include:
- parks, beaches, countryside accessible to the public, forests
- public gardens (whether or not you pay to enter them)
- the grounds of a heritage site
The PM was seen wearing a hat and a face mask on his bike at the venue seven miles away from
A source told the Evening Standard that Mr Johnson was exercising, accompanied by his security detail.
Extraordinarily the premier is said to have ‘noted how busy’ the park was and remarked on it at a meeting later.
Official Government guidance says exercise should be limited to once a day and ‘you should not travel outside your local area’.
Two women were fined £200 each by Derbyshire Police for driving five miles from their home for a walk, while in Whitby officers have slammed people for going sledging.
A witness said: ‘He was leisurely cycling with another guy with a beanie hat and chatting while around four security guys, possibly more, cycled behind them.
‘When I realised the person looked like Boris I cycled past them to hear his voice and be sure it’s him. It was definitely Boris.
‘Considering the current situation with Covid I was shocked to see him cycling around looking so care free,’ added the woman, who asked not to be named.
Also considering he’s advising everyone to stay at home and not leave their area, shouldn’t he stay in Westminster and not travel to other boroughs?’
The PM’s spokesman was unable to give any information yesterday on why Mr Johnson had gone to Stratford and why it was within the rules.
It is also not clear whether Mr Johnson was driven to the park with his bike, or cycled the whole way there and back.
Lib Dem MP Tim Farron said: ‘Government guidance on travelling to exercise is as clear as mud.
‘People are travelling hundreds of miles to the Lake District while others are afraid to drive 5 minutes to the local park.
‘I’ve written to the Prime Minister, asking him to set out clear guidance once and for all.’
A shopper in Morrisons in Leeds not wearing a mask (left) and and another at an Asda in Swindon (right). It is not clear if the customers pictured have valid exemptions for going maskless
Shoppers at a Tesco Extra in south-east London this morning. Rules state that masks must be worn over the nose and mouth
In a video shared to the PM’s official Twitter account yesterday evening – which features footage of Mr Johnson’s visit to Bristol on Monday- the PM heaped praise on the Government’s vaccine programme.
But he warned Britons that it should not lead to complacency, as the new Covid variant is still spreading rapidly.
Mr Johnson said: ‘Hi folks. I am here at this amazing Bristol mass-vaccination centre in a football stadium and it’s one of the 50 that we are going to be rolling out by the end of the month to help all the 1,000-plus GP surgeries, the 233 hospital sites, plus the 200 pharmacies.
‘And that’s, of course, just a start that we’re using to dispense the vaccine.
‘As I speak to you this morning I think we’ve done about 2.4 million jabs, 2 million people in the country already who have been vaccinated, and we will be massively ramping that up in the course of the next few weeks as we get up to, we hope, 15 million by the middle of February.
‘And that’s a very ambitious programme, we’re confident we can do it.
‘But, as we get the jabs into people, it’s incredibly important that we don’t lose focus on the pandemic that is still, alas, surging in so many parts of the country, still filling our hospitals with Covid patients, still causing huge, huge problems for our NHS.
‘So everybody has got to follow the guidance. Stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.’
Along with his video, the PM tweeted: ‘As we get jabs into arms, we must not lose sight of the state of the pandemic – which is putting huge pressure on our NHS.
‘So, please follow the rules and stay home to protect the NHS, and save lives.’
Chaos for thousands of British travellers as the government is STILL yet to reveal what tests tourists need to take before flying to the UK
Britons abroad face a race to get home before rules requiring international travellers to test negative for
From 4am this Friday, those arriving by boat, train or plane – including UK nationals – will have to take a test up to 72 hours before leaving the country of departure.
But there is still confusion over which tests will be accepted, with the latest UK Government guidance issued yesterday referring to how lateral flow tests might be allowed ‘in some cases’ – and saying further advice will be issued to passengers.
Lateral flow tests are cheaper and give results in 30 minutes, while the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests take up to three days to identify positive cases.
Britons will need to present proof of a negative test result to their carrier on boarding while the UK Border Force will conduct spot checks on arrivals.
Passengers at London Heathrow Airport last week. Rules requiring international travellers to test negative for coronavirus before arriving in England come into force this Friday
Conservative MP Henry Smith, chair of the all-party parliamentary group on aviation, said he welcomed the test requirement for every passenger coming into the UK, pointing out that he had suggested it in the Commons as long ago as last January.
But the MP, whose constituency includes Gatwick Airport, told MailOnline: ‘It has been a long time in the gestation and it is not completely clear as to how it all works.
‘It does seem to be taking an extremely long time to pin down something that a lot of other countries have been doing for many months now. This shouldn’t take as long as it has.
‘All of this is complex, but it is relatively straightforward in terms of asking people to take certain types of test. I don’t see what the delay is in terms of being clear about that is.’
The latest guidance released by the Department for Transport yesterday stated: ‘We will establish the standards that tests must meet in regulations.
‘This will include that the test must be of a diagnostic-standard test such as a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, and could in some cases include LAMP and lateral flow tests within set limits.
‘We will provide clear guidance and advice to passengers regarding testing standards and capacity.’
New arrivals who flout the rules will face a minimum £500 fine, while the operator who transported them will also be fined.
Passengers will still have to quarantine for 10 days regardless of their test results, transport minister Robert Courts said in a statement.
British nationals attempting to return home who test positive must not travel and must follow the local guidance in their host country, and contact the nearest consulate if they need support.
‘If a passenger arrives in England without a pre-departure negative test result they will be fined,’ Mr Courts said.
‘We will amend the International Travel Regulations so that fines, starting at £500, can be levied on non-compliant passengers.’