Can I drive to the countryside for a walk during lockdown? Strict new rules explained

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Confused about what you can and can’t do when it comes to exercise in the countryside in lockdown?

Here’s the official guidance on what’s acceptable – and what’s not – during the coronavirus pandemic.

While the lockdown shows no signs of letting up, spending some time outdoors could help with your physical and mental wellbeing.

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As long as government guidelines on social-distancing are being followed, people are allowed to leave their homes in certain circumstances.

These are the rules on driving to the countryside in lockdown.These are the rules on driving to the countryside in lockdown.
These are the rules on driving to the countryside in lockdown. | JPIMedia

Previously, the public were told they could only go outdoors to exercise once per day, to buy essential goods and to travel to work if it was not possible to work from home.

New police guidelines has expanded on that list, with officers being told to consider a string of scenarios that could be deemed reasonable under coronavirus lockdown rules.

The Government has also asked councils to keep parks open, stating access was necessary for "the health of the nation.

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Derbyshire Police came under fire when officers used drones to film people parking their cars for walks in the Peak District.

Now guidelines to police say the public can drive to the countryside to go for a walk, as long as they spend more time walking than driving.

The public can go outdoors, either in the city or in the countryside, to exercise, which includes running, cycling, walking, practising yoga and attending an allotment.

While police guidelines say exercising more than once a day is likely to be reasonable, it gives officers discretion in deciding whether repeated exercise on the same day "can be considered a 'reasonable excuse' for leaving home".

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People who go out to exercise are allowed to stop to take a short break.

This includes stopping to have lunch while on a long walk.

However, police can question those who take a short walk to a park bench if they remain seated longer than they have been walking.

It states it is “lawful to drive for exercise”, but driving for a prolonged period for only brief exercise would “not likely” be a reasonable excuse.

“Exercise must involve some movement, but it is acceptable for a person to stop for a break in exercise,” the guidance states.

“However, a very short period of ‘exercise’ to excuse a long period of inactivity may mean that the person is not engaged in ‘exercise’ but in fact something else.”