Downing Street has insisted Boris Johnson acted within coronavirus guidelines when he controversially rode his bike around the Olympic Park, seven miles from No.10.
But the prime minister’s press secretary Allegra Stratton and a No.10 spokesperson were unable to say exactly what constitutes the allowed “local” exercise under the lockdown guidance.
Official lockdown rules brought in by Johnson say that exercise is limited to once a day and you should not leave your local area, in a bid to halt the surge in coronavirus cases.
The PM said earlier this week that he could introduce tougher lockdown measures if people flout the Covid rules.
Stratton said people must “make personal judgments about whether what we are doing is in the guidelines”.
“In this case, the prime minister acted in accordance with those guidelines,” she told reporters.
Stratton and the spokesperson refused to comment on whether the PM was driven to the Olympic Park, a source of contention after two women were fined £200 each by police when they drove five miles before taking a walk.
Derbyshire Police have since withdrawn the penalties and apologised to the women, but were defended in recent days by health secretary Matt Hancock.
The spokesperson refused to comment on whether the PM was driven to the Olympic Park.
Stratton meanwhile said she could not comment on where Johnson exercises “for security reasons”.
“It’s always been the case and it needs to remain the case that we need to protect the prime minister,” she said.
Asked if it was fair that Johnson, as prime minister, was operating under special circumstances compared to the public, Stratton said: “It’s a reasonable question.
“There is however nothing special about the prime minister going on a bike ride and nor should there be.
“We are encouraging all members of the public to exercise once a day.
“And if that’s a bike ride, then go for it.”
Stratton went on to praise Metropolitan Police commissioner Cressida Dick’s “pretty wise” comments on the bike ride.
Asked about Johnson’s bike ride, Dick told the BBC she would not comment on individual cases, adding: “The public are looking to all of us as role models, for all of us in public life, if you like.
“What I can say is that it is not against the law. I think that’s implicit.”
Asked how she interpreted the term “local” regarding exercise, Dick added: “For me, a reasonable interpretation of that is that if you can… go for your exercise from your front door and come back to your front door.
“That’s my view of local.
“It is complicated. I understand that.”
Asked if Covid guidance should be made clearer, Dick said: “Anything that brings greater clarity for officers and the public in general will be a good thing.”
But the call for clarity was rejected by No.10.
A spokesperson said: “We’ve asked people to exercise their own good judgment and specifically the fact that different people have their own individual circumstances in terms of proximity to outdoor public spaces which is why we have asked people to exercise good judgment.”