Boris Johnson sends an open letter to all Britain’s parents as No 10 plans to relax exercise rules

Boris Johnson has written to all Britain’s parents thanking them for doing ‘a great job’ during the coronavirus pandemic as schools remain closed to most children.

The Prime Minister penned an open letter to parents, carers and guardians to say they have responded ‘magnificently’, with the Government having faced sustained criticism for its handling of education during the pandemic.

Mr Johnson also promised in his letter a multi-million pound catch-up programme for pupils to ensure ‘nobody gets left behind’.  

This week he said classrooms in England would remain closed to all but the vulnerable and children of key workers until March 8 at the earliest, having been closed since the Christmas break.

It came following news that Lockdown exercise rules could be relaxed to ease the pressure on our physical and mental health.

Mr Johnson has asked officials to draw up options for a slight lifting of the rules, which currently limit people to meeting one other person for outdoor exercise once a day.

Boris Johnson has written to all Britain's parents thanking them for doing 'a great job' during the coronavirus pandemic as schools remain closed to most children

Boris Johnson has written to all Britain's parents thanking them for doing 'a great job' during the coronavirus pandemic as schools remain closed to most children

Boris Johnson has written to all Britain’s parents thanking them for doing ‘a great job’ during the coronavirus pandemic as schools remain closed to most children

In the open letter, Mr Johnson wrote: ‘I’m particularly in awe of the way the parents, carers and guardians of children have risen to the unique challenges with which you have been faced.

‘Whether you’ve been welcoming a baby into the world without all the usual support networks, finding new ways to entertain a restive five-year-old when the soft play centre is shut and playdates are but a distant memory, or steering a teenager through the emotional stresses and strains of these unprecedented times, you have been dealt the trickiest of hands yet played it magnificently.’

He insisted the Government is ‘doing everything we can to support you’, with laptops being sent to schools and the extension of free school meals after pressure from critics.

‘And when all this is over we’re going to be putting hundreds of millions of pounds into nationwide catch-up programmes so that nobody gets left behind,’ he added.

‘In the meantime, I want you to know that you are doing a great job.’   

The Prime Minister penned an open letter to parents, carers and guardians to say they have responded 'magnificently', with the Government having faced sustained criticism for its handling of education during the pandemic

The Prime Minister penned an open letter to parents, carers and guardians to say they have responded 'magnificently', with the Government having faced sustained criticism for its handling of education during the pandemic

The Prime Minister penned an open letter to parents, carers and guardians to say they have responded ‘magnificently’, with the Government having faced sustained criticism for its handling of education during the pandemic

Boris Johnson has asked officials to draw up options for a slight lifting of the rules, which currently limit people to meeting one other person for outdoor exercise once a day

Boris Johnson has asked officials to draw up options for a slight lifting of the rules, which currently limit people to meeting one other person for outdoor exercise once a day

Boris Johnson has asked officials to draw up options for a slight lifting of the rules, which currently limit people to meeting one other person for outdoor exercise once a day

It comes as Boris Johnson was spotted at the Olympic Park seven miles away from Downing Street earlier this month. Pictured, the PM cycling in Beeston last summer

It comes as Boris Johnson was spotted at the Olympic Park seven miles away from Downing Street earlier this month. Pictured, the PM cycling in Beeston last summer

It comes as Boris Johnson was spotted at the Olympic Park seven miles away from Downing Street earlier this month. Pictured, the PM cycling in Beeston last summer

Government sources have cautioned that the exit out of lockdown will be slow, with shops, gyms and hairdressers possibly opening in April.

And Government scientists say that pubs and restaurants may be unable to open until May.

But a source familiar with the PM’s thinking said: ‘Schools will be first and everything else will have to take its place after that. 

‘The only exception might be exercise. The PM keeps coming back to social contact – is there anything we could do to help a bit? 

‘Could we do a bit more on exercise to help with people’s mental health? That is being looked at.’

Government sources have cautioned that the exit out of lockdown will be slow, with shops, gyms and hairdressers possibly opening in April

Government sources have cautioned that the exit out of lockdown will be slow, with shops, gyms and hairdressers possibly opening in April

Government sources have cautioned that the exit out of lockdown will be slow, with shops, gyms and hairdressers possibly opening in April

Possible options include allowing people to meet a friend from another household for outdoor exercise more than once a day.

Alternatively, socially distanced exercise could be permitted in groups of three or four – although this is thought to be harder to police.

Officials will also examine whether outdoor sports that can be social distanced, such as golf and tennis, could be allowed to resume. However, a source said that was unlikely at this stage.

A Cabinet Office task force has begun work on a new ‘road map’ out of lockdown, which will be published in the week beginning February 22.

And Government scientists say that pubs and restaurants may be unable to open until May

And Government scientists say that pubs and restaurants may be unable to open until May

And Government scientists say that pubs and restaurants may be unable to open until May

Current restrictions on exercise in the UK

Government guidance states people should minimise time spent outside of their homes, but leaving your home to exercise. 

Exercise is limited to once per day and people are not allowed to travel outside their 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 if participants are from the same household or support bubble. 

It can also continue if it is one-on-one and taking place in a public outdoor place, not in someone’s private home or garden.

Public outdoor places include:

  • Parks, beaches, countryside accessible to the public, forests
  • Public and botanical gardens (whether or not you pay to enter them)
  • The grounds of a heritage site
  • Public playgrounds

Playgrounds are primarily open for use by children who do not have access to private outdoor space, like their own garden but people are not to socialise with other people while there.

Outdoor sports venues are closed but allotments remain open.

Children under 5, and up to 2 carers for a person with a disability who needs continuous care, are not counted towards the gatherings limits for exercising outside.

If someone or a person in someone’s care have a health condition that routinely requires them to leave home to maintain their health they are permitted to do so, even if that involves travel beyond their local area or exercising several times a day. 

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