Runners across the UK breathed a collective sigh of relief last night – two metres apart, of course – after Prime Minister Boris Johnson specifically permitted them to keep running through the latest phase of the country’s fight against Coronavirus.
It was widely anticipated that Johnson would be placing the country into ‘lockdown’ of one kind or another on Monday night, leaving many runners wondering whether they would be confined to their homes for the foreseeable future.
A few days ago, the most recent round of restrictions in Lombardy, Italy's worst-hit region, effectively banned running, closing all parks and gardens and requiring any outdoor exercise to be taken solely on one's own property.
In his address Johnson outlined strict new measures, effectively confining members of the public to their homes for the next three weeks, unless buying food or medicine, travelling to essential work or medical appointments, or caring for vulnerable people.
The only other exception to the order to remain at home is the permission to take exercise ‘once a day’, but only if it is possible to do so while adhering to the latest social distancing guidelines.
While all non-essential shops have been ordered to close, parks and gardens will remain open for the time being to allow exercise, but not socialising.
In addition, Johnson banned all gatherings of more than two people not living in the same household, effectively pulling the plug on any last running event that had not already been postponed or cancelled.
While generally pleased with Johnson’s announcement, runners flooded social media with questions. Some asked why there was a specific reference to exercising ‘once a day’, but no reference to how long they could spend out running. Others wondered whether they were allowed to travel to go for run, particularly with the intention of accessing less crowded areas.
With police being granted powers to back up the new restrictions, runners may soon get the answers to these questions.
But for now, they are free to run responsibly, once a day.