Johnson did not break Covid rules with bike ride, insists Downing Street

Shaun Connolly, PA Political Correspondent
·2-min read

Downing Street has insisted that Boris Johnson’s highly controversial bike ride in east London at the weekend did not break Covid restrictions.

The remarks came after Labour accused the Prime Minister of hypocrisy over the incident on Sunday when Mr Johnson was seen cycling in Olympic Park, seven miles away from his home.

Official regulations brought in by the Prime Minister 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.

Mr Johnson’s official spokesman told a Westminster briefing: “The Prime Minister acted in accordance with the Covid guidance while he was exercising.

“We have always trusted the public to exercise good judgment throughout the pandemic when we have asked them to exercise locally.”

Boris Johnson cycling back when he was Mayor of London
Boris Johnson cycling back when he was Mayor of London (Yui Mok/PA)

The spokesman did not say how far someone can travel to take exercise and sidestepped a question on whether people can drive or take public transport to exercise.

The comments come after Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick said Mr Johnson had not broken the law during the bike ride.

However, Dame Cressida did call for for greater clarity on Covid regulations.

The Metropolitan Police chief said people should stay close to their homes when exercising.

Asked about Mr Johnson’s bike ride, she 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, Dame Cressida 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, the Metropolitan Police chief said: “Anything that brings greater clarity for officers and the public in general will be a good thing.”

Dame Cressida said Met Police officers had issued 300 notices regarding coronavirus restrictions in a 24-hour period over the weekend.

She said: “Now, whether they all convert into fines that people have to pay is another matter, but we have issued 300 notices for a fine in 24 hours. It’s quite a lot and I think it will encourage more people to recognise we are in a health crisis.

“We have had countless changes in the last year in terms of the restrictions that people are under.

“And so it can be complex both for the public and indeed for my frontline officers to know exactly what the regulations are now.

“And also for all of us as members of the public, what the guidance is.”