Since the second lockdown was announced I have received a number of emails from constituents concerned about the reclosure of gyms, leisure centres, outdoor sports facilities, and the rules on gathering in groups prohibiting grassroots sports teams from meeting.
From November 5 the rules have meant people are required to stay at home except for specific purposes, one of which is to exercise outdoors. This can be done with the people you live with, your support bubble or, if you are on your own, with one person from another household. Children under school age, as well as those dependent on round-the-clock care such as those with severe disabilities, who are with their parents will not count towards the limit on two people meeting outside. Subject to these restrictions, there is no limit to how much exercise people can take.
The majority of those contacting me have questioned why sports such as outdoor tennis, golf and archery cannot continue if they are carried out in a socially distant way. I can understand their frustration, and their reasoning seems sound. However, these restrictions are part of the effort to reduce contact between people as much as possible and thereby reduce the spread of the infection. I fully appreciate the vital contribution sports teams and gyms make to exercise and health, both physical and mental. But, although it is regrettable, ministers have taken the view that making exceptions would not go far enough in minimising infections, no matter how attractive they might appear. The focus must now be on lowering the R rate so these restrictions can be lifted as quickly as possible.