Boris Johnson is coming under fire after being spotted cycling in a park seven miles from Downing Street this weekend.
Government lockdown guidance for England states that people may leave their homes to exercise once a day, but tells them they “should not travel outside your local area” to do so.
Mr Johnson’s ride sparked anger on social media, with one Twitter user describing the prime minister as a “hypocrite” and another saying it appeared that “lockdown is just for the little people”
Labour’s MP for the London seat of Hammersmith, Andy Slaughter, said: :“Once again, it is ‘Do as I say not as I do’ from the prime minister.
“London has some of the highest infection rates in the country. Boris Johnson should be leading by example.”
But Downing Street insisted he was exercising within the lockdown rules, and health secretary Matt Hancock said it was permissible to walk or ride as much as seven miles away from your home.
Mr Johnson was seen riding with security officers around the Olympic Park in Stratford, east London, though it was unclear whether he had cycled from Westminster or been driven there.
The trip came amid controversy over £200 fines handed out to two women who drove five miles to a reservoir near their Derbyshire homes to go for a walk.
Downing Street today restated its advice that people were able to meet one other person to exercise during lockdown, but should not stop to sit down and chat over a drink.
“Exercise should be exercise and it shouldn’t be used for socialising,” said the prime minister’s spokesman.
The spokesman said that all lockdown measures were kept “under constant review” but declined to say whether ministers were considering tightening up rules to stop friends from different households meeting to exercise or to require more mask use outside.
The spokesman declined to comment on whether Mr Johnson had cycled out to Stratford or been driven, saying he would not discuss the PM’s travel arrangements for security reasons.
A No 10 source said that the PM raised his trip with colleagues at a meeting on coronavirus later in the day, after seeing how many people were using the Olympic Park.
“He noted how busy the park was and he commented on it at the meeting last night,” said the source.
“He was concerned about if people were following the rules and was concerned after his cycle ride around the park.”
Mr Hancock appeared to suggest that it was permissible to run, walk or ride for seven miles away from your home and then return, but did not make clear whether it would be allowed to drive seven miles in order to take a ride.
“It is OK if you went for a long walk and ended up seven miles from home,” he told a Downing Street press conference.
“That’s OK, but you should stay local. You should not go from one side of the country to another and potentially take the virus with you.
“It’s 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 your physical and mental health. But don’t say that you are exercising when really you are socialising.”
On a visit to a vaccination centre in Bristol today, Mr Johnson warned against public “complacency” over observing restrictions and indicated he was ready to tighten them if necessary.
“We have rules in place already which, if they are properly followed, we believe can make a huge, huge difference.
“It’s now that people need to focus … when they’re out shopping, whether they’re buying cups of coffee in the park or whatever it happens to be, they need to think about spreading the disease.”
“Of course, if we feel that things are not being properly observed then we may have to do more.”
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News – Boris Johnson under fire after being spotted cycling in park seven miles from Downing Street