Can I travel from Sheffield to the Peak District for exercise over lockdown? New rules explained

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England is preparing for a second national lockdown, with people being told to stay at home from Thursday, November 5, to curb the spread of coronavirus.

But as with the first national lockdowns there are exemptions allowing people to head out, and this time the restrictions are ever so slightly less severe.

One question lots of people in Sheffield are asking is whether they can make the short trip to the Peak District to exercise, and here’s what the guidance says.

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People can make a 'short journey' for exercise during the new national lockdown but the Government has yet to clarify what qualifies as a 'short journey'People can make a 'short journey' for exercise during the new national lockdown but the Government has yet to clarify what qualifies as a 'short journey'
People can make a 'short journey' for exercise during the new national lockdown but the Government has yet to clarify what qualifies as a 'short journey'

When the first lockdown was imposed in March, people were told to only leave their home once a day to exercise, though this was later relaxed to allow unlimited exercise outdoors, where growing evidence suggested the virus was less likely to spread.

This time around, people are being told they can travel to exercise ‘if you need to make a short journey to do so’ and no restriction has been imposed so far on how much daily exercise people can take.

People are also allowed to meet one person from another household outside, provided they stick to social distancing guidelines and keep two metres apart.

But there are still question marks surrounding what exactly is a reasonable distance to travel for exercise.

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In lockdown mark one, police in South Yorkshire set up checkpoints where drivers were stopped and asked if they were travelling for essential reasons, while Derbyshire police shared drone footage of people driving to Peak District beauty spots to walk, which they said was against the rules.

It is not yet clear whether something similar will happen this time or whether the rules on travelling within England will be enshrined in law and if so what fines people could face for flouting them.

One of the arguments at the time was that although people driving to the Peak District for exercise would not be likely to spread coronavirus, provided they stuck to the social distancing guidelines, their actions could put the emergency services under extra strain should they need assistance.

When asked today to clarify what qualifies as a ‘short journey’ for exercise, and whether those rules would be legally binding, the Cabinet Office replied ‘further guidance will be issued before the law comes into effect on Thursday’.

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During the the three-tier local lockdown restrictions, which remain in force until Thursday, people were advised not to leave or enter Tier 3 areas which included South Yorkshire, but this was guidance and there was no legal ban on doing so.

Boris Johnson’s adviser Dominic Cummings famously drove his family on a 25-mile day trip to Barnard Castle during the first national lockdown, later explaining his actions by saying he wanted to test his eyesight before making a longer journey.

He was defended by the Prime Minister, who insisted he had not broken any laws, and Durham Police took no further action after investigating, though the force said that if an officer had stopped Mr Cummings on the way to or from the town he would have been told to return.

The rules on travelling this time around state that people should avoid travelling in and out of their ‘local area’ and should look to reduce the number of journeys they make but that they can and should travel for a number of reasons, including:

travelling to work where this cannot be done from home

travelling to education and for caring responsibilities

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hospital GP and other medical appointments or visits where you have had an accident or are concerned about your health

visiting venues that are open, including essential retail

exercise, if you need to make a short journey to do so.

Where people do need to travel, they are encouraged to walk or cycle where possible and to plan ahead and avoid busy times and routes on public transport.

Overnight stays away from primary residences, which includes travel to a second home or a relative who is not part of a support bubble, along with holidays abroad and in the UK, are banned.

People must also not travel for any reason if they are experiencing coronavirus symptoms, sharing a household with someone who has symptoms or have been told to self isolate by NHS Test and Trace.

British nationals who are currently abroad do not need to return home immediately but have been told to check with their airline or travel operator regarding the arrangements for returning.