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Health secretary warns exercise outside of home could soon be banned

Images of people exercising and spending days out at public parks could result in a much harsher lockdown, the UK’s health secretary has warned.

Matt Hancock said the government will be forced to take action if the rules are flouted, especially as people attempt to soak up the sun.

The improving weather recently has seen swathes of people rush to local parks, with reports Peatlands Park, near Dungannon, was heaving on Saturday afternoon.

There have been reports of chips vans in residential areas, beauty spots bustling, and generally crowds flocking elsewhere in their cars.

Mr Hancock, speaking to the BBC’s Andrew Marr said: “If you don’t want us to have to take the step to ban exercise of all forms outside of your own home, then you’ve got to follow the rules.”

He stressed the importance of exercise for its physical and mental health benefits and that did not want to remove exercise as a reason to leave home.

But added: “If the result of that is that too many people go out and flout the other rules because they say ‘well if I can exercise then it’s fine for me to do other things’ then I’m afraid we will have to take action.

“Let’s not have a minority spoil it for everybody.”

Mr Hancock also confirmed that sunbathing in public spaces was against the government’s coronavirus social distancing rules.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted his thanks to “everyone who is saving lives by staying at home this weekend”.

“I know it’s tough, but if we all work together and follow the guidance we will beat coronavirus,” he said.

ABC police were in Portadown this morning.

They said: “We are conducting patrols today to ensure everyone’s safety during COVID-19.

“Our streets are almost empty and we would like to say thank you to all of you for playing your part. Also visiting stores across the area and everyone is showing patience and resolve.”

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