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Hancock 'eases' Covid-19 exercise rules after Boris Johnson seen cycling miles from home

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Matt Hancock says it’s ‘fine’ to exercise at distance

Matt Hancock says it’s ‘fine’ to exercise at distance

Park ride: It was reported PM was cycling seven miles from his residence

Park ride: It was reported PM was cycling seven miles from his residence

PA

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Matt Hancock says it’s ‘fine’ to exercise at distance

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said it is fine for people to exercise away from their home following reports the Prime Minister went cycling seven miles from his residence after imposing sweeping Covid restrictions on others.

Boris Johnson was seen at the Olympic Park in east London on Sunday cycling with members of his security detail, it was claimed.

Official regulations brought in by Mr Johnson say that exercise is limited to once a day and you should not leave your local area, in a bid to halt the surge in coronavirus cases.

In yesterday's Downing Street briefing Mr Hancock said he wanted Britons to "have that great British summer" and for life to return to normal "as fast as possible".

Asked about Covid-19 restrictions, Mr Hancock was pressed on whether people should exercise seven miles from their home - thought to be a reference to Mr Johnson's cycle journey.

The Health Secretary said: "Yes, you can go and exercise in the park with one other person, but only one other person.

"And we have been seeing large groups and that is not acceptable. Likewise, it is OK if you went for a long walk and ended up seven miles away from home, that is OK.

"But, you should stay local, you should not go from one side of a country to another, potentially taking the virus with you."

Meanwhile, the number of coronavirus patients in hospitals in England has risen to a record high of more than 32,000, new figures show.

Mr Hancock said the NHS is under "very significant pressure" and told the public to reduce all social contact that is "not absolutely strictly necessary".

The Health Secretary's warning came as NHS England data showed there were 32,070 Covid-19 patients in English hospitals as of 8am yesterday. The figure is up 20% compared to last week, and up 81% since Christmas Day.

A further 529 people died within 28 days of testing positive for coronavirus as of yesterday, bringing the UK total to 81,960, though separate figures show there have now been 97,000 deaths involving Covid-19 in the UK.

Mr Hancock told a Downing Street press conference: "The NHS, more than ever before, needs everybody to be doing something right now, and that something is to follow the rules.

"I know there has been speculation about more restrictions, and we don't rule out taking further action if it is needed, but it is your actions now that can make a difference.

"Stay at home, and please reduce all social contact that is not absolutely strictly necessary. That's what is needed: act like you have the virus."

He said vaccination was the "fastest route to safely lifting restrictions" and the Government was on track to vaccinate the 15m people most at risk by the middle of February.

Almost 2.3m people in the UK have been given a first dose of a coronavirus vaccine, according to new figures, while 388,677 second doses have also been given.

Some 78,005 first doses have been given in Northern Ireland, on top of the 1,959,151 in England, 86,039 in Wales and 163,377 in Scotland. It gives a UK total of 2,286,572.

Belfast Telegraph


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