Boris Johnson bike ride: did the PM break Covid rules on his 7 mile cycle at London’s Olympic Park?

The Prime Minister was spotted cycling seven miles away from Downing Street - but did he really flout exercise restrictions?

Tuesday, 12th January 2021, 12:04 pm

Boris Johnson has been criticised after he was seen cycling in an east London park, seven miles away from his home at No 10 Downing Street.

The Prime Minister was spotted on his bike in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park on Sunday 10 January and was accused of breaking lockdown rules by exercising outside his local area.

It comes after two women were fined by Derbyshire police for travelling to walk at a reservoir five miles away from where they lived. The fines have since been rescinded.

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The Prime Minister is said to be a keen cyclist (Getty Images)

So, did the Prime Minister break Covid rules? Here’s everything you need to know.

What did Boris Johnson do?

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was spotted by walkers at around 2pm on Sunday 10 January as he cycled in the Stratford park, the Evening Standard reported.

The Olympic Park in east London is seven miles away from Boris Johnson’s Westminster residence, but current government advice says people must stay local when exercising.

A woman told the PA news agency that Mr Johnson had been “leisurely cycling” in the park alongside another man, with members of his security cycling behind them.

She said: "Considering the current situation with Covid I was shocked to see him cycling around looking so care-free.

"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?"

A spokesman for No 10 did not say whether the PM had been driven to the park to cycle or had cycled there himself - but he did say Mr Johnson had complied with the Covid rules.

The source said: “The PM follows Covid-secure guidelines. It does not say in the regulations that driving somewhere to take exercise is a breach of the rules.

“That is not a comment on the PM’s case but the rules only say remain local.”

Labour MP for Hammersmith, Andy Slaughter, criticised Boris Johnson’s excursion, saying: “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."

Did Boris Johnson break the rules?

The current government lockdown advice in England permits people to take exercise outdoors - but it explicitly says that you should not travel outside your local area.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock was asked at the Downing Street press conference on Monday 11 January whether travelling seven miles for a bike ride was within the coronavirus rules.

Mr Hancock said: "It is OK, if you went for a long walk and ended up seven miles from home, that is OK, but you should stay local.

"It is OK to go for a long walk or a cycle ride or to exercise, but stay local."

UK Government guidance does say that “stay local” means in the village, town, or part of the city where you live, but it does not state the number of miles you can travel.

In Scotland, the government advice is more precise. Exercise can be taken if it “starts and finishes at the same place, which can be up to five miles from the boundary of your local authority area".

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today on Tuesday 12 January, Policing Minister Kit Malthouse said: "What we are asking people to do is when they exercise to stay local.

"Now local is, obviously, open to interpretation, but people broadly know what local means.

"If you can get there under your own steam and you are not interacting with somebody... then that seems perfectly reasonable to me."

What are the other rules for exercising?

As well as the “stay local” rule, there are a number of other restrictions when it comes to exercising during England’s lockdown.

You are also only permitted to leave your home to exercise once a day while the restrictions are in place.

When exercising outside you can do so alone, with the people you live with, with your support bubble or with one person from another household.

But you must stay two metres apart from anyone that is not in your household or support bubble.

Exercise includes, but is not limited to, running, cycling, walking, and swimming.

Personal training can also continue for one-on-one sessions, unless everyone is within the same household or support bubble.

You are allowed to exercise in public outdoor places including parks, beaches, countryside, public gardens, the grounds of a heritage site and playgrounds.

However, outdoor sports venues such as tennis courts, golf courses and swimming pools have been forced to close.