Boris Johnson responds as Priti Patel gets COVID rules wrong again
Home secretary incorrectly said people can only exercise alone, when rules permit someone to exercise with one other person from a different household
On Tuesday, Patel wrongly said ‘outdoor recreation’ was allowed
On Thursday, home secretary Patel incorrectly said people can only exercise alone under the rules of the third lockdown.
In fact, the rules allow one person to exercise outdoors with one person from another household.
Patel, speaking to ITV’s This Morning, had said: “The clarity is exercising on your own and not socialising.”
She added: “The point to make about any exercise – yes, it should be local, people exercise differently. But exercise on your own and don’t use it for a social meeting.”
Responding to the comments on Thursday afternoon, Johnson’s official spokesman said the government’s guidance on exercise has been “clear”.
“We’ve been clear that if people exercise they can do so with one other person from another household but we’re asking them to socially distance while they’re doing that.”
The home secretary’s mix-up over exercise came after Tuesday’s Downing Street press conference in which Patel wrongly said “outdoor recreation” was allowed.
The rules, in fact, state: “You cannot leave home for recreational or leisure purposes (such as for a picnic or a social meeting).”
Later that evening, the Home Office clarified Patel was talking about exercise when she referred to “recreation”.
Labour’s shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds posted on Twitter on Thursday: “The home secretary really needs to get a grip and be on top of the brief
“How on earth are police supposed to enforce these rules effectively when the home secretary gets them wrong?
Watch: High street pharmacies begin COVID-19 vaccines
Meanwhile, Johnson’s spokesman suggested further restrictions on people’s freedoms are still under consideration, but added there have been “early signs of progress” in reducing COVID-19 infections – meaning tougher rules may not be imposed.
As of Wednesday (13 January), the seven-day average of COVID infections in the UK was 53,539, down from 57,702 on 6 January, which was two days after Johnson announced England’s national lockdown.
Watch: What you can and can't do during England's third national lockdown