Boris Johnson ‘didn’t break any rules’ by driving 7 miles to ride his bike, a Number 10 source has insisted.
The Prime Minister, whose Downing Street home has a large, private garden and is surrounded by royal parks, was seen cycling in the Olympic Park in Stratford on Sunday.
Mr Johnson also has access to the grounds of Buckingham Palace, where he walks his dog, Dilyn.
Official government guidance is for people to “stay local” – exercising in their local area and not travelling to do so.
The guidance states: “You should not travel outside your local area”.
And Health Secretary Matt Hancock told a Number 10 press briefing people should not be travelling for their daily exercise.
Mr Hancock said: “if you went for a long walk and ended up seven miles away from home, that is OK.
“But, you should stay local, you should not go from one side of a country to another, potentially taking the virus with you.”
Boris Johnson’s official spokesman refused to comment on Mr Johnson’s Sunday bike ride.
But a Number 10 source said he had not broken any rules.
“The PM was taking exercise locally in line with the Covid guidelines,” they said.
“There isn’t anything in the rules that says you can’t drive somewhere in order to take exercise.”
The official guidance states: “If you do leave home for a permitted reason, you should always stay local – unless it is necessary to go further, for example to go to work.
“Stay local means stay in the village, town, or part of the city where you live.
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The No 10 source said today they would “firmly” reject any suggestion the PM had broken the rules.
And they source pointed to a high profile row over two women who travelled five miles to a reservoir for a walk and were fined £200 by police.
This evening, Derbyshire Police withdrew their fixed penalty notices and apologised.
The No 10 source said: “The most criticised cases involving people being fined have been rescinded this evening.”
And they went on to say the government “deliberately” specify a distance someone could travel for exercise.
They said: “Any suggestion that the rules have been broken by the PM, we would reject that very firmly.
“What it says is that you must exercise locally. We very deliberately never put a distance on it. It’s very clear that the PM has followed the rules”.
The Evening Standard reported the Prime Minister was wearing a face covering and a wooly Transport for London hat while enjoying the bike ride.
He was accompanied by several secret service officers, also riding bikes.
But upon his return, a Downing Street source says Mr Johnson was “concerned” to the number of people in the park – which he and his entourage had added to.
Labour MP for Hammersmith in west London Andy Slaughter condemned the Prime Minister.
Mr 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.”
The PM was spotted on his bike ride by Evening Standard reporter Sophia Sleigh.
And in a post on Facebook, local Marietta Gende said she had also seen the PM.
“I don’t have a photo to prove it but I just saw Boris Johnson leisurely cycling around the Olympic park about 30mins ago with his entourage,” she wrote.
“Incredible to see our PM enjoying himself while the country is in crisis and NHS staff are working around the clock to save lives!”