Last night (Sunday, 10 May) at 7:00pm, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the first, tentative steps towards easing Coronavirus lockdown measures, with a clear reference to encouraging unlimited amounts of outdoor exercise, from Wednesday, this means the Strava police can switch focus to hunting those claiming lockdown PB’s when there elapsed time adds 10-20 minutes to their actual moving time! (for reference see the Strava Wankers twitter feed)
The Prime Minister’s address changed the primary COVID-19 safety message from ‘Stay Home’ to ‘Stay Alert’ as part of a conditional plan to start to return society to a new normal. However, this new slogan has not been adopted in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland – we remain in lockdown but not in lockstep.
The relevant part of the PM’s speech, as far as runners and fitness seekers were concerned, was: “From this Wednesday, we want to encourage people to take more and even unlimited amounts of outdoor exercise. You can sit in the sun in your local park, you can drive to other destinations, you can even play sports, but only with members of your own household”.
While greater clarity is expected to emerge over the next few days, with a 50-page guidance document being released by the Government at 2:00pm today (11 May) it is obvious there is a considerable easing of restrictions around outdoor exercise and leisure activities. No doubt there will be many questions arising from the statement, such as what are ‘other destinations’ when it comes to driving, while many were predicting rather more precise geographic limitations.
The Prime Minister made it clear that existing legal sanctions would remain and indeed would be more robust in the event of any breach of the law, saying: “You must obey the rules on social distancing and to enforce those rules we will increase the fines for the small minority who break them”.
So, from Wednesday, we can train like Olympians and even undertake a triathlon, if we have permitted access to open water for the swim section! But, with most physios still closed, it would be wise to take a cautious approach and to increase our training gradually to avoid injury – tempting though these new freedoms may seem.
We are still a long way away from getting back to training at our clubs or running groups with England Athletics having suspended all competition until July and no recent updates from the parkrun Global team following their worldwide shutdown in mid-March.
Hopefully, the new rules won’t leave you scratching your head!