A few people have contacted me worried about how some of our villages and towns are impacted by people travelling to exercise.
It is understandable that some places will not feel it is reasonable or safe if lots of people arrive to a small area. I do however want to manage expectations and explain a few points as I have been asked whether the police can or should do more and whether the rules can be changed by government to stop people travelling.
I have spoken to our local police about this and heard from government Ministers too.
As you may know already, you are required to stay local when you exercise/walk with the dog etc during this lockdown period. And, when assessing how far to travel locally, we are effectively required to make the decision ourselves and be sensible while staying safe from Covid in mind.
When we were in Tiers system (which I anticipate we will go back to), we were asked to stay within our Tier, i.e. the County of Gloucestershire.
I have checked and there are no plans for the government to define what is ‘local’, define distances or create penalties attached to travel for exercise. I personally believe that is the right approach. We saw an awful lot of police time taken up in Wales when the borders needed to be policed and there was confusion when there were suggestions about certain distances being appropriate in the first lockdown.
The police do not have powers to arrest people in connection with lockdown exercise so please do not get frustrated with them. There is no law against travelling to exercise. The guidance is not legally binding and the police have no power to enforce it unless it is reflected in the lockdown regulations.
The police will of course still be around and asking questions. Naturally, they also care a lot if people are feeling worried due to the number of visitors they are receiving. You may find that the police will ask people where they have come and to return home if necessary. This is also to be distinguished from issues surrounding illegal gatherings which can be prosecuted.
Police officers will continue to use their discretion and professional judgement about whether or not someone has a reasonable excuse for travelling for exercise and being outside the place where they are living.
I am sure the majority of you know this already but I hope it may be helpful for reference.