Government advice to fight the coronavirus epidemic has been clarified to encourage people to “stay local” when exercising before the first lockout weekend.
After police warned of “confusion” about where people can go, ministers updated the guidelines to urge the public to use only “open spaces” near their homes when that is possible.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson this week ordered the public to stay home except for essential travel and for a once-daily exercise to help ease the pressure on the NHS in the fight against Covid-19.
Before a major social distancing test on Saturday, the Department of the Environment updated its guidelines on how to stay safe during exercise.
The public should “stay local and use open spaces near you where possible,” he said, adding, “Don’t travel unnecessarily.”
And people should stay at least two meters from anyone they don’t live with when they exercise.
Earlier, Staffordshire police admitted there had been “some confusion” as to where they were allowed to go – as a neighboring force prohibited its use of drones to deter people visiting the Peak District.
Derbyshire police have drawn criticism from some circles after they released footage from his drone, drawing attention to what he said was clearly an unnecessary trip.
Meanwhile, Avon and Somerset police said the non-essential trips included “going to local beauty spots for exercise.”
Elsewhere, Cumbria police have warned that drivers may be fined for “closing” the Lake District, with North Yorkshire police also telling people to stay away from beauty spots.
The chief of the National Council of Chiefs of Police for Charges and Extrajudicial Determinations, Deputy Chief Sara Glen, also urged people to “be reasonable.”
She said, “There is nothing definitive in the legislation that says” can you get in a car to get to a place to go and do your exercise. “
“He just gives the advice we give, all of whom can be really sensitive about it.”
In a statement, a staffordshire police spokesperson said, “There has been some confusion as to whether people can visit and exercise in the Staffordshire countryside, including Cannock Chase, the cockroaches and other national parks.
“We ask people not to visit these areas and to stay close to home to exercise once a day.”
Asking people to maintain social distance, he added, “We understand that there are a small number of local people living in these immediate areas who may continue to walk dogs and exercise, but cars should only be used for essential travel and not for traveling somewhere to exercise.
“It is important that groups of people avoid gathering in areas such as parking lots or popular beauty spots as it is impossible to stay more than two meters from each other – which is essential to stop the spread of the virus. “
Urging people to support the NHS and respect the lockdown, the force said, “The beautiful Staffordshire countryside will still be there in a few weeks so that we can all enjoy it.”
Avon and Somerset Police said they would distribute brochures to visitors to beauty spots.
A force spokesman added, “People should not make unnecessary trips, which includes driving to local beauty spots for exercise.”
“Our agents will distribute leaflets and public information leaflets in popular beauty spots to remind people of their responsibilities during this public health crisis.”
“We urge people not to endanger the safety of emergency service workers by flouting these measures.
“We are all in the same boat and together we can make sure public safety is at the top of all our priority lists.”