F oreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who has been deputising for Boris Johnson while he remains hospitalized, has warned that it was still too soon for ministers to begin lifting the strict social distancing rules introduced last month.
Mr Raab said that the lockdown measures will “have to stay in place until we’ve got the evidence that clearly shows we’ve moved beyond the peak” when asked whether the Government had decided to extend the rules.
Mr Raab also said: “SAGE (the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies will meet next week to discuss the latest evidence and we’ll keep the measures we put in place under review.”
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has warned outdoor exercise could be banned if individuals continue to ignore social distancing rules .
His comments follow reports some members of the public flouted social distancing rules last the weekend , which saw temperatures rise to degrees and thousands flock to beaches and parks.
Amid warnings that the Government could introduce tougher measures including a ban on exercise if social distancing rules are flouted, some local authorities have called for roadblocks to prevent people flooding to the area over the Bank Holiday .
Police warned they were ready to take action against those who flout the coronavirus lockdown rules. Downing Street offered the Government’s “full backing” to police forces seeking to enforce the restrictions over the holiday period.
But there was a rebuke for Northamptonshire Chief Constable Nick Adderley after he suggested his force could mount road blocks and search shopping trolleys to check if people were going out to buy non-essential items.
Home Secretary Priti Patel told talkRADIO: “That is not appropriate, let me be clear on that. That is not the guidance.”
The Health Secretary, who has himself recently recovered from coronavirus , warned: “If you don’t want us to have to take the step to ban exercise of all forms outside of your own home then you’ve got to follow the rules ”.
But how likely is it that the government will take this extreme step?
- How likely is it that that government will ban outdoor exercise?
Despite the warnings, Housing and Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick has confirmed there are no “imminent plans” to ramp up social distancing restrictions.
M r Jenrick has advised parks should remain open unless it was “impossible” to maintain social distancing. He also confirmed he had spoken to some local councils.
“This is their decision, but I have asked them to be very judicious in taking that step and only to do that where they feel it is impossible to maintain social distancing rules within their parks or open spaces,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today program.
The minister also expressed his sympathies to those who relied on public parks as their only source of greenery.
“It would be very unfortunate if we had to do so and make it harder for people, particularly people who live in flats in towns and cities, to get the exercise they deserve”.
Mr Jenrick’s sentiments were shared by Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson chairman of the Local Government Association’s culture, tourism and sport board.
“Councils know that parks are a lifeline for residents needing to get some exercise or fresh air and are great for physical and mental wellbeing.”
“This is why councils want to keep parks open, but people need to follow the social distancing advice, otherwise councils will be reluctantly forced to close them as a last resort to help prevent the coronavirus spreading.”
W hile this weekend has seen the police ramp up their presence, senior police officers have called into question the practicality of enforcing a ban on outdoor exercise .
Jayne Meir, Assistant Chief Constable of West Midlands Police, told the BBC’s Radio 4 Today program: “I can understand people are looking at further restrictions. It would be really difficult to police individuals on a daily basis. to take personal responsibility for this. It’s a collective responsibility to stay at home. “
As for now, the guidance remains unchanged – exercise once a day , with members of your household and within areas local to you.
- Read more: How long do lockdowns last? Countries which acted fastest could be freed first