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Sainsbury’s joins Morrisons as they reinstate bouncers outside supermarkets

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The supermarket mask crackdown ran into problems from day one today as some shoppers continued refusing to follow the rules.

Sainsbury’s and Morrisons became the first supermarkets to return to the tougher enforcement seen in March by reintroducing bouncers at the door to ensure all customers are wearing face coverings.

In recent months, shoppers have been seen repeatedly flouting the rules by going maskless after many stores ditched guards.

But as alarm bells were sounded by Number 10 and scientists warned that shops were contributing to the rise in cases, supermarkets today declared a new clamp down.

West Yorkshire Police Federation chairman Brian Booth warned this morning that there are not enough officers to enforce mask rules in supermarkets and it was up to the stores themselves to do so.

‘We don’t have enough resources to deal with that,’ he said. ‘Look at how many shops and supermarkets and shops there are in every neighbourhood.’

Meanwhile, Met Chief Cressida Dick said it was ‘preposterous’ for people to claim they were not aware of the rules.

It comes as Boris Johnson prepares to further strengthen lockdown rules including by limiting outdoor contact.

Sainsbury’s today sent an email to all customers saying guards would ‘challenge’ maskless customers or people shopping in groups.

Morrisons has already reintroduced security at the door and vowed to ban anyone refusing to wear a face covering without a medical exemption.

Shoppers arriving at Morrisons in Peckham, south London were greeted by a security guard instructing them to put on their masks or they would not be allowed in.

One woman who came without her mask was warned that if she did not put it on, she would not be allowed to continue with her shop.

The woman, who only gave her first name of Gladys said: ‘I had a mask with me but simply forgot. I’ve come into the supermarket lots of times before and not put it on, but I think it’s a good thing that they are enforcing this.’

But after putting on her mask, Gladys then lowered it below her mouth as she continued with her shop. She said: ‘I find them too uncomfortable. I don’t see what the fuss is, I’ve got a mask on, it’s just not covering my nose and mouth at the moment.’

As Gladys shopped in the store, she was not challenged about how she was wearing her mask. 

A maskless shopper in Morrisons, south-east London. The woman, who only gave her first name of Gladys said: ‘I had a mask with me but simply forgot’

But after putting on her mask, Gladys then lowered it below her mouth as she continued with her shop. She said: ‘I find them too uncomfortable. I don’t see what the fuss is, I’ve got a mask on, it’s just not covering my nose and mouth at the moment'

But after putting on her mask, Gladys then lowered it below her mouth as she continued with her shop. She said: ‘I find them too uncomfortable. I don’t see what the fuss is, I’ve got a mask on, it’s just not covering my nose and mouth at the moment’

A shopper in Morrisons in Leeds not wearing a mask

A maskless customer at an Asda in Swindon

A shopper in Morrisons in Leeds not wearing a mask (left) and and another at an Asda in Swindon (right). It is not clear if the customers pictured have valid exemptions for going maskless 

Customers not wearing masks at an Asda in Swindon. It is not clear if the customer on the pictured had a medical exemption

Customers not wearing masks at an Asda in Swindon

Customers not wearing masks at an Asda in Swindon. It is not clear if the customer on the left had a medical exemption 

Shoppers at a Tesco Extra in south-east London this morning. Rules state that masks must be worn over the nose and mouth

Shoppers at a Tesco Extra in south-east London this morning. Rules state that masks must be worn over the nose and mouth 

A security guard on duty at the entrance to a Morrisons in Leeds, where most customers were following the face mask guidance

A security guard on duty at the entrance to a Morrisons in Leeds, where most customers were following the face mask guidance 

Sainsbury's CEO Simon Roberts sent this email to all customers this morning to inform them about the new enforcement measures

Sainsbury’s CEO Simon Roberts sent this email to all customers this morning to inform them about the new enforcement measures 

In other developments –  

  • Scientists urged No10 to increase social distancing to three metres as Matt Hancock blasted people for flouting lockdown;
  • Another 529 virus deaths were recorded yesterday, up from 407 a week earlier, with 46,169 new cases;
  • Seven vaccination hubs came into use, including London’s ExCeL and Birmingham’s Millennium Point;
  • Morrisons said it would ban shoppers refusing to wear face coverings;
  • Derbyshire Police cancelled £200 fines for two women penalised for driving five miles to go for a walk;
  • Nearly a quarter of care home residents have received their first shot of Covid vaccine;
  • Hospitals started rationing oxygen as it emerged that one in four coronavirus patients is under 55. 

When asked about the crackdown, a shopper at a Morrisons in London said today: ‘It’s about time. A lot of people are going to supermarkets and simply ignoring the rules. I don’t know why it’s taken Morrisons this long to start enforcing this rule.

‘We’re living in very difficult times and we’ve all got to pull together to beat this virus.’

A third, who refused to give her name, did not have a mask covering her nose. She said: ‘What’s the problem I’ve got a mask on haven’t I?

‘I find it difficult to breathe when I’ve got a mask on and sometimes get a rash. I think it’s good to enforce the rule but they’ve got to understand that for some people, masks are very uncomfortable.’

The Morrisons security guard, who did not want to give his name said: ‘We’ve been given strict instructions about masks. If you’ve not got one on, you’re not getting in. It’s as simple as that.’

The security guard added that until today, they had not been challenging customers who were without masks.

Met Police chief Cressida Dick says it is ‘preposterous’ people could not be aware of coronavirus laws as she vows keep fining people

Britain’s most senior police officer said it is ‘preposterous’ that people could be unaware of the need to follow the third national lockdown and warned that rule-breakers will be fined.

Met Police chief Dame Cressida Dick said people are still holding house parties, meeting in basements to gamble, and attending unlicensed raves despite rising numbers of coronavirus cases and deaths.

She warned that anyone caught breaking the rules or failing to comply would result in officers ‘moving much more quickly to enforcement action’.

It comes amid increasing calls for tougher shutdown restrictions, with No10 even considering imposing Chinese-style curfews, outdoor mask mandates and three metre social distancing.

Writing in the Times today, Dame Cressida said: ‘It is preposterous to me that anyone could be unaware of our duty to do all we can to stop the spread of the virus. We have been clear that those who breach Covid-19 legislation are increasingly likely to face fines.

‘We will still be engaging, explaining and encouraging but those who break the rules or refuse to comply where they should without good reason will find officers moving much more quickly to enforcement action.’ 

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He said: ‘It wasn’t our responsibility to enforce it and we were told to call the police, which we never did. This is going to create more problems for us because my concern is that some people will not want to wear a mask and will fight with us over it. So far, we’ve not had many problems.’

Today several other shoppers at supermarkets including Tesco and Morrisons were still seen without masks, although the vast majority were complying with the rules.  

Britain’s policing minister Kit Malthouse today said police would intervene in serious breaches of Covid rules in shops, but measures imposed and enforced by owners would be effective in most cases.

Brian Booth, chair of West Yorkshire Police Federation, emphasised that officers would only intervene if ‘other offences were committed’, such as when the customer refusing to wear a mask became violent or abusive. 

‘If there is an ongoing crime, an assault or danger to someone that must be the priority but we just don’t have the resources to stand at every supermarket,’ he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. 

Meanwhile, Mr Booth criticised the current regulations as ‘woolly’, saying they left too many ‘loose ends’ which ‘cheesed-off’ officers had to interpret for themselves. 

He suggested that the much-publicised fining of two walkers in Derbyshire was correct according to the guidance. 

‘An officer issued a ticket in the spirit it was written,’ Mr Booth told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. ‘Normally in law, when you have a new law it is disputed and goes to the court where it is argued and becomes case law. 

‘But we don’t have time for that, so what we need is a sound basis in law and we need it now, rather than leaving loose ends.’ 

It came as Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick said it was ‘preposterous’ that people would not know the Covid rules, and vowed to continue fining lawbreakers.

Writing in the Times today, Dame Cressida said: ‘It is preposterous to me that anyone could be unaware of our duty to do all we can to stop the spread of the virus. We have been clear that those who breach Covid-19 legislation are increasingly likely to face fines.

‘We will still be engaging, explaining and encouraging but those who break the rules or refuse to comply where they should without good reason will find officers moving much more quickly to enforcement action.’  

During the first shutdown, supermarkets installed bouncers at store entrances to challenge rule-breakers and created in-store one-way systems to help people socially distance. 

But the bouncers began to vanish as the threat posed by Covid-19 waned during the summer, leading to an increasingly ‘lax’ attitude from shoppers who no longer cover their faces. 

A woman is challenged for not wearing a mask at a Morrisons branch in south-east London. Bouncers are now on the doors of every Morrisons and Sainsbury's store

A woman is challenged for not wearing a mask at a Morrisons branch in south-east London. Bouncers are now on the doors of every Morrisons and Sainsbury’s store 

The vast majority of people seen at supermarkets across the UK today - including a Morrisons in London, pictured - were following the rules

The vast majority of people seen at supermarkets across the UK today – including a Morrisons in London, pictured – were following the rules 

Several customers had masks on that were not properly positioned over there nose and mouth, as the anti-Covid rules require

Several customers had masks on that were not properly positioned over there nose and mouth, as the anti-Covid rules require 

Shopworkers have revealed that they are receiving abuse from customers for encouraging them to wear masks, fuelling calls for bouncers to visibly enforce lockdown measures. 

The union Usdaw said it had been ‘inundated’ with complaints from its members of abuse during the pandemic, and demanded supermarkets and food retailers revert to ‘stringent’ restrictions. 

Face coverings: Who is exempt?

Children under the age of 11 and people who cannot wear a face covering due to a mental or physical illness are exempt from wearing masks.

People who need to speak to or assist someone who is lip reading, or needs clear sound and/or facial expressions to communicate, are also exempt.

Carrying an exemption card or badge is a ‘personal choice’ and ‘not required by law’, according to the government.

It states that if you have an age, health or disability reason for not wearing a mask, then you ‘do not routinely need to show any written evidence of this’ and ‘do not need to show an exemption card’. 

The full list of exemptions can be found here

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High street chains including Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose insisted that Covid safety remains their ‘highest priority’ and said that customers were given regular reminders to follow the rules.

But shocking examples of the regulations being broken were seemingly evident in the big-brand shops as Boris Johnson warned of ‘complacency’ and urged people to comply with the restrictions. 

It comes amid threats to impose outdoor mask mandates, with London’s Borough Market becoming the first place in the UK to legally enforce the wearing of masks while the Welsh health minister hinted that restrictions could get even tougher as he advised people to wear masks inbetween shops in public. 

The PM said : ‘We need to enforce the rules in supermarkets. When people are getting takeaway drinks, in cafes, then they need to avoid spreading the disease there, avoid mingling too much.’

In a statement, Morrisons said it had ‘introduced and consistently maintained thorough and robust safety measures in all our stores’ since last year.

But it added: ‘From today we are further strengthening our policy on masks’ – revealing that security guards at the UK’s fourth-biggest supermarket chain will be enforcing the new rules.  

Enforcement of face masks is the responsibility of the police, not retailers. Wearing face masks in supermarkets and shops is compulsory across the UK.

In England, the police can issue a £200 fine to someone breaking the face covering rules. In Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, a £60 fine can be imposed. Repeat offenders face bigger fines.

Morrisons’ chief executive David Potts announced: ‘Those who are offered a face covering and decline to wear one won’t be allowed to shop at Morrisons unless they are medically exempt.

‘Our store colleagues are working hard to feed you and your family, please be kind.’

Supermarkets have been urged to ensure all customers are following the rules and wearing their face coverings correctly

Supermarkets have been urged to ensure all customers are following the rules and wearing their face coverings correctly 

This Morrisons store in Swindon did not appear to have any security at the entrance to enforce the face mask rules this morning

This Morrisons store in Swindon did not appear to have any security at the entrance to enforce the face mask rules this morning 

Friends Jessica Allen and Eliza Moore, pictured, both 27, who were each fined £200 by police for driving 10mins for a walk in a local reservoir say they've had their fines cancelled following backlash

Friends Jessica Allen and Eliza Moore, pictured, both 27, who were each fined £200 by police for driving 10mins for a walk in a local reservoir say they’ve had their fines cancelled following backlash

Shocking coronavirus simulation shows how infected shopper can cough cloud of deadly droplets across TWO supermarket aisles 

Scientists have put together a shocking video that shows how deadly coronavirus droplets can spread across two supermarket aisles and infect shoppers, with the bug hanging in the air for ‘several minutes.

Experts from Aalto University in Finland have put together an animation so shoppers can be aware of the dangers of spreading the killer disease.

‘Someone infected by the coronavirus, can cough and walk away, but then leave behind extremely small aerosol particles carrying the coronavirus. These particles could then end up in the respiratory tract of others in the vicinity,’ says Aalto University Assistant Professor Ville Vuorinen. 

The alarming video follows disturbing news that joggers could be passing the infection to one another, even if they are six feet apart.

Scientists in Finaldn say Covid-19 germs from a cough can spread across two shopping aisles

Scientists in Finaldn say Covid-19 germs from a cough can spread across two shopping aisles

 

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Sainsbury’s chief executive Simon Roberts said: ‘On behalf of all my colleagues, I am asking our customers to help us keep everyone safe. 

‘The vast majority of customers are shopping safely, but I have also seen some customers trying to shop without a mask and shopping in larger family groups. 

‘Please help us to keep all our colleagues and customers safe by always wearing a mask and by shopping alone. Everyone’s care and consideration matters now more than ever.’    

Health Secretary Matt Hancock praised Morrisons for imposing a blanket mask rule, telling a Downing Street press conference: ‘It isn’t just about the Government and the rules we set, or the police and the work that they do – it’s about how everybody behaves.

‘I applaud the action Morrisons has taken today, the supermarket, they have said that they will not let people in without a mask unless they clearly have a medical reason. That’s the right approach and I want to see all parts of society playing their part in this.’

Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi yesterday voiced his concerns that members of the public were not complying with measures put in place by supermarkets, amid suggestions the restrictions may need to be toughened. 

‘I am worried about supermarkets and people actually wearing masks and following the one-way system and making sure when it’s at capacity they wait outside the supermarket,’ he said. 

It comes amid reports that shopworkers are receiving abuse from customers who are not wearing masks, with Lincoln-based supermarket staffer Skye Henson, 23, saying people took the first lockdown ‘a lot more seriously’ and claiming ‘we’re lucky if people are wearing masks’ now.

She told BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat: ‘A good 30 per cenr of the people that come into our shop don’t wear masks and just outright don’t think it’s an issue. They don’t consider us to be in any kind of danger, so for me I do think a lot of it is the public putting us at risk.’ 

Usdaw general secretary Paddy Lillis said: ‘Retail staff are working with the public every day and not only suffer increased abuse, but are deeply worried about catching Covid-19. 

‘Where safety measures are agreed, retailers need to make sure that they are being followed consistently, in every store.

‘We are also very concerned by reports that too many customers are not following necessary safety measures like social distancing, wearing a face covering and only shopping for essential items.  

‘It is going to take some time to roll out the vaccine and we cannot afford to be complacent in the meantime, particularly with a new strain sweeping the nation.   

Britain's policing minister Kit Malthouse said police would intervene in serious breaches of Covid rules in shops. Pictured are Tesco customers following the rules at a store in London this morning

Britain’s policing minister Kit Malthouse said police would intervene in serious breaches of Covid rules in shops. Pictured are Tesco customers following the rules at a store in London this morning 

Customers wearing face coverings on the vegetable aisle at a Tesco Extra store in south-east London early this morning

Customers wearing face coverings on the vegetable aisle at a Tesco Extra store in south-east London early this morning 

A customer walking out of Morrisons in south-east London this morning at the start of the supermarkets' mask wearing crackdown

A customer walking out of Morrisons in south-east London this morning at the start of the supermarkets’ mask wearing crackdown 

Tesco has signs outside many of its stores insisting shoppers must wear a face covering, although they can ask staff for one if they have lost theirs

Tesco has signs outside many of its stores insisting shoppers must wear a face covering, although they can ask staff for one if they have lost theirs 

Supermarket coronavirus rules in place

Sainsbury’s

Facemasks are mandatory in store, unless the shopper is medically exempt from wearing them.

There are also plastic safety screens, hand sanitiser and signs urging customers to socially distance.

The store also has specially-timed slots for elderly or vulnerable people to buy their goods.

Marks & Spencer

M&S has hand sanitising as well as one-way systems in place and a facemask rule.

Larger shops have restricted the purchase of non-essential goods.

There is also a booking process to let people reserve a slot instore to go shopping. 

Morrison’s 

Morrison’s have told staff to refuse entry to shoppers who have no medical reason for not wearing a facemask. 

They also have a specialist next-day delivery service for those who cannot get to a shop in person.

The shop also has an NHS priority time the key workers can go in to buy food.

Asda

Asda, like others, has a rule for facemasks unless there is a medical exemption announced by the customer.

They also have an app that lets shoppers wait in a digital queue in their cars for a slot to go instore. 

Asda also say they have put a protective film on basket and trolley grips that kills bacteria.

Tesco 

Tesco has similar facemask and cleaning protocols in place in all of its stores.

It also has priority hours for key workers as well as limits on some items for delivery.

Larger stores still have staff at the front of them to warn unmasked shoppers going in they need to cover up.

Waitrose

Waitrose says facemasks must be worn in its stores unless a person is exempted from not wearing one.

Marshals are at the entrances to its stores to check people are wearing mask and are shopping alone.

Floor-markers help customers to follow social distancing while people are asked to keep two metres in queues. 

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‘I am worried about supermarkets and people actually wearing masks and following the one-way system and making sure when it’s at capacity they wait outside the supermarket.’   

Retail industry body the British Retail Consortium said that workers have faced an increase in incidents of violence and abuse when trying to encourage shoppers to put them on.

Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, said: ‘Supermarkets continue to follow all safety guidance and customers should be reassured that supermarkets are Covid-secure and safe to visit during lockdown and beyond.

‘Customers should play their part too by following in-store signage and being considerate to staff and fellow shoppers.’ 

One woman told MailOnline how Marks and Spencer told her they could not challenge people who do not adhere to the mask mandate.

Fiona Call said she was shopping at a Food Hall at Rushden Lakes in Northamptonshire when she saw a woman ‘blatantly marching around the store with her mask under her chin’.

‘I mentioned this to a manager in the store. His reply was that they aren’t allowed to challenge people who aren’t adhering to the rules,’ she said.

‘She was obviously putting many people at risk by her behaviour and no one was able to do anything about it.’

Marks and Spencer insisted it was enforcing lockdown rules, with a ‘friendly host at the entrance’ who counts customers and manages queues. 

Tesco said it was still enforcing social distancing practices in store but was not looking yet at reintroducing measures such as one-way aisles.

‘The safety of our customers and colleagues is our top priority and we already have extensive social distancing measures in our stores to ensure everyone can shop safely with us,’ the store said on Twitter.

‘We are asking all our customers to wear a face covering when visiting our stores and have prominent signs in place to inform customers of the rules. 

‘However, there may be some customers who are unable to wear a face covering for medical or safety reasons and we have asked our colleagues to respect that and to not challenge them directly.’ 

Waitrose said face masks must be worn in its stores unless a person is exempted from not wearing one. 

It said marshals flank the entrances to its stores to check people are complying with the mask mandate and checking that people are shopping alone.

The supermarket chain has also laid out floor markers which instruct customers to following social distancing rules, while signs and tannoys tell people to keep two metres apart while queueing on the premises.  

Data from Public Health England last week found 11 outbreaks of the disease had come from food outlets.

But England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said supermarket staff would not be initially prioritised for vaccinations unless they also fell into the highest vulnerability categories.

Everyone in England is being urged to stay at home and 'act like you've got it' as part of a major advertising campaign. including posters (pictured) encouraging the public to control the spread of the virus and protect the NHS and save lives

Everyone in England is being urged to stay at home and ‘act like you’ve got it’ as part of a major advertising campaign. including posters (pictured) encouraging the public to control the spread of the virus and protect the NHS and save lives

Scientists urge No10 to increase social distancing to THREE METRES as Matt Hancock blasts people for flouting lockdown after Britain endures deadliest week so far with average of 931 deaths a DAY 

By Simon Walters for the Daily Mail and Jemma Carr for MailOnline

oris Johnson is under pressure to increase the social distancing gap to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Leading members of the Sage scientific advisory panel want the measure raised from ‘one metre plus’ to ‘two metres plus’.

In practice this would change the limit to three metres – nearly 10ft. The drastic proposal came as a furious Matt Hancock denounced individuals who flout social distancing rules.

Speaking at a Downing Street press conference the Health Secretary said that he would ‘not rule out further action if needed.’

He was backed by Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty, who sits on Sage and said it was time to ‘double down’ on Covid curbs – including outdoor contact.

Asked if a three-metre rule would be imposed in England, a Downing Street spokesman said last night: ‘There are no current plans to change social distancing rules. However, everything is kept under review.’

It came as the country recorded a further 529 Covid deaths on Monday – marking a 30 per cent rise on the 407 reported on the same day last week. 

It was the deadliest Monday since April 20 when 570 people lost their lives and it marked the worst week for deaths in Britain since the pandemic began. An average of 931 people have lost their lives on each of the past seven days, compared to the highest seven-day average of 920 in April’s first wave. 

But, in a positive sign that the UK’s soaring case load may be leveling out, 46,169 people tested positive for the virus – down 20 per cent in a week.

As Boris Johnson also warned of tougher Covid-19 curbs if existing restrictions were ignored:

The distance was set at two metres in March after experts said coronavirus was up to ten times more transmissible at one metre than at two. Now experts want the public to maintain the distance on public transport, in supermarket lines and while out and about

The distance was set at two metres in March after experts said coronavirus was up to ten times more transmissible at one metre than at two. Now experts want the public to maintain the distance on public transport, in supermarket lines and while out and about

The Daily Mail has been told that several members of Sage say the lockdown needs to be even tougher than the first one in March last year.

The idea of a Chinese-style ban on residents leaving their homes was raised at one meeting.

Ministers are furious that some people have been using their right to daily exercise simply as an excuse to meet friends for a coffee in the park.

One source said: ‘If it means limiting people to a single one-hour walk on their own once a week that is what we must do. We cannot let a few selfish idiots put the whole country in danger.’

It is feared that the failure to observe the restrictions is fuelling the number of deaths and risks hospitals becoming overwhelmed.

Increasing the social distancing rule to three metres is seen as one way of stopping the spread of the new variant of the virus, which can be passed on more easily.

Opponents of the move say it would have little impact, cause more confusion and be a logistical nightmare.

Two-metre signs have been painted on pavements across the nation, with similar notices found in tens of thousands of shops, factories, offices and public places.

Changing them all would add to the soaring cost of fighting the pandemic.

Supporters claim the benefit in saving lives and protecting the NHS means the move is worth it. They argue it is a response to the new variant which is thought to be up to be 70 per cent more transmissible.

If it goes ahead it would be the Government’s third policy on social distancing.

The distance was set at two metres in March after experts said coronavirus was up to ten times more transmissible at one metre than at two.

But it was reduced to ‘one metre plus’ in July after the first lockdown – mainly to make it easier for restaurants and cafes to reopen.

A ‘two metre plus’ rule would in practice mean staying three metres apart – nearly 10ft – unless steps were taken to limit the danger of transmission, such as screens.

Social distancing gaps vary around the world.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said it is allowed to cycle seven miles from where you live to take exercise, despite also insisting that people must ‘stay local’

In China, Hong Kong and Singapore, which were successful in controlling the pandemic, the gap was one metre.

However, they imposed other, far stricter, rules including curfews. Spain and Canada followed the two-metre rule.

The three other home nations have different versions of the two-metre rule.

In Scotland people are advised to keep two metres apart and in Wales they are told to stay two metres apart unless it is not practical, with young children exempt.

The gap in Northern Ireland came down to one metre but is two again.

Professor Paul Hunter of the University of East Anglia said: ‘Risk declines the further you are away from someone.

‘So three metres will reduce risk somewhat compared to two metres – but it is difficult to say how much and whether that would make a big difference. I suspect the main issue is people not sticking to the two-metre rule.’

Mr Hancock warned against trying to ‘push the boundaries’ on exercise, adding: ‘If too many people break this rule we are going to have a look at it. Don’t say you are exercising if really you are just socialising.’

He said the two-metre rule had to be obeyed, not seen ‘as a limit to be challenged’. 

Shortly after Mr Hancock’s Downing Street press briefing on Monday, the PM released a short video filmed during his visit to the Ashton Gate vaccination centre in Bristol.

In it, he urged Britons to ‘follow the guidance, stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives’ as Covid continues to spread rapidly in several parts of the country.

Britons shouldn’t ‘lose focus on the pandemic’ as coronavirus is ‘still causing huge, huge problems for our NHS’, Mr Johnson added. 

In the clip (pictured), he urged Britons to 'follow the guidance, stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives' as Covid continues to spread rapidly in several parts of the country

In the clip (pictured), he urged Britons to ‘follow the guidance, stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives’ as Covid continues to spread rapidly in several parts of the country

Mr Hancock also used the briefing to defend the PM after he was spotted cycling in the Olympic Park seven miles from Downing Street in apparent breach of government advice.

The Health Secretary said it is allowed to cycle that distance from where you live to take exercise, despite also insisting that people must ‘stay local’.

But he also warned that rules on two people from different households being able to exercise outdoors together could be torn up if people keep abusing them.

‘If too many people keep breaking this rule we are going to have to look at it but I don’t want to do that,’ Mr Hancock told a No10 briefing yesterday evening.

The PM was seen wearing a hat and a face mask on his bike at the venue seven miles away from Downing Street yesterday afternoon.

What are the government’s rules on taking exercise? 

You should minimise time spent outside your home, but you can leave your home to exercise. 

This should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area.

You can exercise in a public outdoor place:

  • by yourself
  • with the people you live with
  • with your support bubble (if you are legally permitted to form one)
  • in a childcare bubble where providing childcare
  • or, when on your own, with one person from another household

This includes but is not limited to running, cycling, walking, and swimming. 

Personal training can continue one-on-one unless everyone is within the same household or support bubble.

Public outdoor places include:

  • parks, beaches, countryside accessible to the public, forests
  • public gardens (whether or not you pay to enter them)
  • the grounds of a heritage site
  • playgrounds
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A source told the Evening Standard that Mr Johnson was exercising, accompanied by his security detail. 

Extraordinarily the premier is said to have ‘noted how busy’ the park was and remarked on it at a meeting later.

Official Government guidance says exercise should be limited to once a day and ‘you should not travel outside your local area’. 

Two women were fined £200 each by Derbyshire Police for driving five miles from their home for a walk, while in Whitby officers have slammed people for going sledging.

A witness said: ‘He was leisurely cycling with another guy with a beanie hat and chatting while around four security guys, possibly more, cycled behind them.

‘When I realised the person looked like Boris I cycled past them to hear his voice and be sure it’s him. It was definitely Boris.

‘Considering the current situation with Covid I was shocked to see him cycling around looking so care free,” added the woman, who asked not to be named.

Also considering he’s advising everyone to stay at home and not leave their area, shouldn’t he stay in Westminster and not travel to other boroughs?’

The PM’s spokesman was unable to give any information yesterday on why Mr Johnson had gone to Stratford and why it was within the rules.  

It is also not clear whether Mr Johnson was driven to the park with his bike, or cycled the whole way there and back. 

Lib Dem MP Tim Farron said: ‘Government guidance on travelling to exercise is as clear as mud. 

‘People are travelling hundreds of miles to the Lake District while others are afraid to drive 5 minutes to the local park. 

‘I’ve written to the Prime Minister, asking him to set out clear guidance once and for all.’

In a video shared to the PM’s official Twitter account yesterday evening – which features footage of Mr Johnson’s visit to Bristol on Monday- the PM heaped praise on the Government’s vaccine programme.

But he warned Britons that it should not lead to complacency, as the new Covid variant is still spreading rapidly. 

Mr Johnson said: ‘Hi folks. I am here at this amazing Bristol mass-vaccination centre in a football stadium and it’s one of the 50 that we are going to be rolling out by the end of the month to help all the 1,000-plus GP surgeries, the 233 hospital sites, plus the 200 pharmacies.

‘And that’s, of course, just a start that we’re using to dispense the vaccine.

‘As I speak to you this morning I think we’ve done about 2.4 million jabs, 2 million people in the country already who have been vaccinated, and we will be massively ramping that up in the course of the next few weeks as we get up to, we hope, 15 million by the middle of February.

‘And that’s a very ambitious programme, we’re confident we can do it. 

‘But, as we get the jabs into people, it’s incredibly important that we don’t lose focus on the pandemic that is still, alas, surging in so many parts of the country, still filling our hospitals with Covid patients, still causing huge, huge problems for our NHS.

‘So everybody has got to follow the guidance. Stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.’

Along with his video, the PM tweeted: ‘As we get jabs into arms, we must not lose sight of the state of the pandemic – which is putting huge pressure on our NHS. 

‘So, please follow the rules and stay home to protect the NHS, and save lives.’   

Obey the rules or they’ll get tougher: PM’s warning as Whitty says we’re at the worst point of the pandemic

ByJason Groves Political Editor For The Daily Mail 

Lockdown restrictions will be tightened again if the public flout the current rules, Boris Johnson warned yesterday.

The Prime Minister said ‘complacency’ among the public could plunge the country into a deeper crisis at what was already a ‘very perilous moment’.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock last night reinforced his message, saying so-called support bubbles were the only lockdown exemption guaranteed to stay.

Chief medical officer Chris Whitty said Britain was ‘now at the worst point of this epidemic’ and urged people to stop seeing friends and family, even in the limited circumstances still allowed, saying every ‘unnecessary’ contact risked spreading the virus.

Chief medical officer Chris Whitty said Britain was ‘now at the worst point of this epidemic’ and urged people to stop seeing friends and family, even in the limited circumstances still allowed, saying every ‘unnecessary’ contact risked spreading the virus.

The warnings came amid mounting Government concern that the third lockdown may fail to bring the latest spike in coronavirus infections under control.

Chief medical officer Chris Whitty said Britain was ‘now at the worst point of this epidemic’ and urged people to stop seeing friends and family, even in the limited circumstances still allowed, saying every ‘unnecessary’ contact risked spreading the virus. 

Boris Johnson pedals into a storm over lockdown bike ride after he is spotted cycling SEVEN MILES from Downing Street in the Olympic Park 

Boris Johnson has been accused of undermining his own lockdown rules after it was revealed that he went cycling seven miles from Downing Street for exercise.

The Prime Minister was spotted on his bike at the Olympic Park in east London on Sunday afternoon with his security detail.

Wearing a Transport for London hat and a face mask, he rode around the site in Stratford, east London, at around 2pm.

A few hours after his ride, Mr Johnson held a meeting with Cabinet colleagues to discuss the current lockdown.

Last night, Hammersmith Labour MP Andy Slaughter said: ‘Once again it is ‘Do as I say, not as I do’ from the Prime Minister.

‘London has some of the highest infection rates in the country. Boris Johnson should be leading by example.’

A source told the Evening Standard that the PM was exercising, adding: ‘But he did note how busy the park was and he commented on it at the meeting last night.

‘He was concerned about if people were following the rules and was concerned after his ride around the park.’

Downing Street declined to comment on the journey, and would not clarify whether the PM cycled to the park or was driven there in a vehicle for his bike ride. 

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He added: ‘The key thing to understand is that when you meet people from another household under any circumstances – and they’re very often your friends, your family – but those are the kind of situations where the virus is passed on.’

He added: ‘It doesn’t care who you are, it doesn’t care whether they’re your friends. If you meet someone from another household, the virus has an opportunity to be transmitted.’

Ministers are considering a number of further restrictions, including closing the exemption that allows two people from different households to exercise together outdoors.

Government sources yesterday said Mr Johnson was ‘reluctant’ to scrap the exemption, which provides one of the few remaining lifelines for the lonely.

But there are fears it is muddying the ‘stay at home’ message, with the Prime Minister’s official spokesman yesterday struggling to clarify whether two friends can take drinks with them on a walk.

Mr Hancock said the exemption was under review as it was being abused. ‘We have been seeing large groups… and you should be two metres apart from the other person. If there are too many people breaking this rule then we are going to have to look at it.

‘But, I don’t want to do that because for many people, being able to go for a walk with a friend… is their only social contact.’

Pre-school nurseries and places of worship could also face restrictions if cases continue to rise – but Mr Hancock said support bubbles were sacrosanct.

The arrangement allows those living alone or with babies to link up with one other household for support.

The Prime Minister and his fiancee Carrie Symonds are among those who have taken advantage of the system, forming a support bubble with Miss Symonds’s mother following the birth of their son Wilfred in April.

Ministers hope the blunt messaging on the NHS crisis and tougher rule enforcement will persuade people to comply with the letter and spirit of the lockdown.

But Labour yesterday called for the rules to be tightened, including the closure of nurseries.

Mr Hancock last night suggested a major relaxation of the rules was unlikely until all over-60s have been vaccinated – which the new plan suggests won’t be until at least April.

He said it was only at this point that ministers could be absolutely sure that hospital admissions from the virus would start to fall.

But the Covid Recovery Group of Tory MPs, who oppose lockdown, last night said it should be lifted as soon as the 13million most vulnerable are vaccinated – which the Prime Minister pledged to achieve by February 15.

Boris Johnson was spotted at the Olympic Park seven miles away from Downing Street yesterday afternoon. Pictured, the PM cycling in Beeston last summer

Boris Johnson was spotted at the Olympic Park seven miles away from Downing Street yesterday afternoon. Pictured, the PM cycling in Beeston last summer

DailyMail Online


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