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Coronavirus: Confusion over PSNI advice on travelling for exercise

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There is confusion around whether people in Northern Ireland are allowed to travel for exercise (Jonathan Brady/PA)

There is confusion around whether people in Northern Ireland are allowed to travel for exercise (Jonathan Brady/PA)

PA

There is confusion around whether people in Northern Ireland are allowed to travel for exercise (Jonathan Brady/PA)

There is confusion around whether people in Northern Ireland are allowed to travel away from their homes for exercise during the coronavirus lockdown.

It comes after Carrickfergus PSNI removed a post from their Facebook page that said "exercise begins and ends at your front door".

The issue was highlighted on BBC Radio Ulster's Nolan Show on Tuesday morning.

"Due to the personal commentary of the officer which did not reflect the PSNI's communications approach in relation to Covid-19 the post was removed," a PSNI spokesperson told the Nolan Show.

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A post on the PSNI Carrickfergus Facebook page advising people to exercise near their homes.

A post on the PSNI Carrickfergus Facebook page advising people to exercise near their homes.

A post on the PSNI Carrickfergus Facebook page advising people to exercise near their homes.

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020 introduced by the Northern Ireland Assembly states that no person may leave the place where they are living without reasonable excuse".

One of the "reasonable excuses" listed in the legislation is "to take exercise either alone or with other members of their household".

The legislation makes no reference to where exactly the exercise should be carried out.

PSNI advice states that people can leave home "to exercise, for example, a run, walk or cycle - alone or with members of your household".

However, police do not list exercise as among the reasons people are allowed to travel. Reasons to travel include work when you cannot work from home, volunteering and charitable purposes and to access critical public services.

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Police have issued guidelines for when people should travel.

Police have issued guidelines for when people should travel.

Police have issued guidelines for when people should travel.

The Belfast Telegraph contacted the PSNI to ask for clarity on the matter, but have not yet received a response.

Police issued a statement on exercising away from the home last Thursday.

"The legislation is already clear-cut. The new health care regulations allow you to leave home and travel only if is necessary," a PSNI spokesperson said.

"Driving to go for exercise is not a necessity and is entirely in contradiction of the advice of the Chief Medical Officer and the Health Service who want you to stay at home to protect the Health Service and save lives. It is the assessment of the Police Service that it is also a breach of the restrictions."

The spokesperson said that there was no reason for people to travel for exercise.

"Simply, the restrictions require you to have a reasonable excuse to have a need to leave home, it’s not just a reason, but a need and I see no need for anybody to drive miles in order to take their daily exercise so that would put you in breach of the restrictions," the spokesperson said.

"We will engage with you, we will explain that to you and advise you to go home and if you choose not to take that advice we will use enforcement by way of fines.”

Belfast Telegraph