How far can I travel for exercise? Rules on exercising outdoors during lockdown - and when they could change

Boris Johnson’s roadmap includes dates for relaxing exercise restrictions

Spending time outdoors has been a saviour during the pandemic, with many of us turning to exercise to keep us entertained.

With tight travel restrictions in place during the third national lockdown, travelling far to keep fit has not been possible.

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Yet Boris Johnson revealed his roadmap out of lockdown for England on Monday 22 February which outlined when we may be able to start going further for walks, hikes and runs as rules ease.

Strict measures on travel and recreation have been in place since early January (Shutterstock)

So, how far can you travel for exercise right now - and when do the rules change?

Here is everything you need to know.

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What are the current exercise rules?

Strict measures on travel and recreation have been in place since early January.

England’s stay at home order does not permit people to leave the house except for essential reasons, like shopping for necessities, work, education, childcare purposes - and exercise.

But you are only allowed to stay in your local area for exercise.

“Local area” is defined as “the village, town, or part of the city where you live”, according to the government.

Exercise, including running, cycling and walking, is also limited to once per day.

You are only able to exercise in a public, outdoor place by yourself, with the people you live with, with your support bubble, or with one person from another household while on your own.

Public outdoor places cover parks, beaches, countryside and forests, botanical gardens and heritage sites, and public playgrounds.

When do the rules change?

Restrictions will only be eased in England if the four “tests” are met.

These focus on the progress of the vaccination rollout, the efficacy of the vaccines, infection rates and the existence of new variants of the virus.

Based on the tests, the first easing will happen with the return of schools for all pupils from 8 March. On this date, two people will also be allowed to socialise outdoors.

Then from 29 March, outdoor gatherings of up to six people or two households will be permitted.

There will also be a change in the stay at home message to “stay local”, depending on the data at the time.

That means people will not be legally required to stay inside from this date - but they will still be asked to minimise travel wherever possible.

It is likely that you will be able to travel around your local area - village, town or neighbourhood - for exercise whenever you like at this point.

Long distance travel for exercise will still be discouraged from this date.

Will the rules relax further?

The rules on travelling for exercise may not be relaxed further until 12 April, if the four tests are met, which is the date when self-contained catering accommodation could reopen.

From that date, people may be allowed to exercise away from their local area, and even take weekend trips.

That will only be permitted for individuals or one household at the start.

At the same time, pubs and restaurants may reopen for outdoor dining and drinking, with groups no bigger than six people - the “rule of six” - or two households.

Further down the line, hotels and B&Bs could open from 17 May, which is the same date that the rule of six rule could become redundant.

This would make domestic holiday travel possible - including extended trips for exercise with friends and family.