Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been accused on social media of breaking lockdown restrictions after he was reportedly seen yesterday cycling in London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, some seven miles from Downing Street – although the law in England places no limits on how far people can travel for exercise.
The London Evening Standard says that the Conservative politician was wearing a face mask Transport for London hat as he rode a bike in the park in Stratford, accompanied by security staff, at around 2pm yesterday afternoon.
The newspaper notes that government guidance on exercise during lockdown in England is that you can only do so once a day, and “you should not travel outside your local area.”
However, the paper makes no mention of the regulations themselves, which unlike the guidance are enforceable at law, and which do not contain any such restrictions.
The barrister Martin Porter QC pointed out that the Prime Minister had done nothing wrong, responding to a tweet from the newspaper columnist and radio host, Julia Hartley-Brewer.
I don’t consider myself the PM’s greatest fan but he has done nothing at all wrong here. His Government correctly encourages exercise. He is in better shape now than he was last April. Good for him. https://t.co/6xT2TLhaSR
— Martin Porter QC (@MartinPorter6) January 11, 2021
Mr Johnson was reported to have been “concerned” about the number of families he saw exercising in the park, which hosted the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games when he was the city’s mayor.
According to an unnamed source quoted by the Evening Standard, he had visited the park to undertake exercise, but commented on how busy it was at an emergency meeting with cabinet colleagues last night.
“He was concerned about if people were following the rules and was concerned after his cycle ride around the park,” the source added.
Media reports today suggest that lockdown rules are set to be further tightened, possibly including preventing people from meeting with someone from outside their household to undertake exercise, which is currently permitted.
The Prime Minister came under further criticism today when he travelled 100 miles to a new COVID-19 vaccination centre in Bristol.
Asked why he had undertaken the journey, he said that it was “essential that I explain to the public what we are doing to roll out the mass vaccination centres”.
Mr Johnson added: “Everybody should be asking themselves whether they need to be leaving home, whether they need to be doing something that could actually end up spreading the disease.”
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.