Here's the latest advice on outdoor exercise in all regions of the UK as government eases restrictions

By Alex Nelson
Monday, 11th May 2020, 12:40 pm
Updated Wednesday, 13th May 2020, 10:28 am

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced changes to the coronavirus lockdown rules in England.

The new set of rules, which start this week, include the re-opening of garden centres, the right to exercise as much as you like outdoors and changes in rules around working.

Alongside the relaxing of some rules, the Government is also increasing the fines on those who breach its new guidelines. People could face charges as high as £3,200 if they break the lockdown.

The rules do not apply to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which have the power to determine their own set of rules.

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    The other three nations have opted to ease fewer restrictions than the PM has across England.

    With each of the four nations of the UK taking slightly differing approaches to lockdown, there has been a lot of confusion as to what new rules apply where, and what they mean.

    How many times can I exercise outdoors?

    Previously, lockdown measures meant that people were only permitted to one bout of outdoor exercise a day.

    With slightly more relaxed measures in England, the guidance has changed; the ban on leaving home more than once a day to exercise is being scrapped from Wednesday (13 May).

    “People may exercise outside as many times each day as they wish,” say the official Government guidelines. “For example, this would include angling and tennis.

    “You will still not be able to use areas like playgrounds, outdoor gyms or ticketed outdoor leisure venues, where there is a higher risk of close contact and touching surfaces.”

    In Scotland, there are no significant changes to lockdown rules, but the cap on daily exercise has now been scrapped to allow people to exercise outdoors more than once per day.

    However, Scots have been warned to avoid meeting up in groups at parks or beaches, and to avoid sunbathing, picnics and barbecues.

    In Wales, the Welsh government announced people can now go outside to exercise more than once a day, but this should still be done locally and not a significant distance from the home.

    In Northern Ireland, people will now be able to travel up to five kilometres from their home to exercise.

    How long can I exercise for?

    Before the new lockdown rules were brought in, exercise was permitted in sessions of up to one hour in length per day.

    As temperatures warm up, people in England are being allowed outdoors for unlimited amounts of time - as long as they continue to abide by social distancing restrictions.

    Police will no longer reprimand people who sunbathe and play sports with other members of their household.

    For other parts of the UK, no definitive 'time limits' are outlined in any guidance, but with the easing of the ‘once per day’ rules, it would appear as if any imposed time limits on exercise have also been removed.

    How far can I travel?

    The official Government guidance says: “People may drive to outdoor open spaces irrespective of distance, so long as they respect social distancing guidance while they are there, because this does not involve contact with people outside your household.

    “When travelling to outdoor spaces, it is important that people respect the rules in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and do not travel to different parts of the UK where it would be inconsistent with guidance or regulations issued by the relevant devolved administration.”

    Discussing changes to the exercise rules, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told BBC Breakfast: "You can drive as far as you want to drive to go and walk in a park or a particular area that you're fond of as long as you maintain the social distancing.

    "But obviously, if you're going from one part of the UK to another, so if you're going from England to Wales or from Scotland to Wales and different rules are in place because the devolved administrations take a different approach you need to be very mindful of the regulations that they've got in place."

    Police Scotland advise staying local and make use of open spaces close to your home where possible to exercise, avoiding all unnecessary travel.

    In terms of being able to travel to exercise, the Scottish government states: “Unnecessary travel should be avoided, so exercise should be done in your local area.

    In Wales, government guidance states that you shouldn’t drive to exercise unless it is absolutely necessary.

    Instead, exercise should be taken in your local area and “as close as possible to the home”.

    In Northern Ireland, it is permitted to drive to do your daily exercise providing you have a reasonable reason for needing to do so for that type of exercise.

    This could include driving to a safe open space for walking, providing it is no further than five kilometres from your home.