Do I have to stay at home all day?
No. You may leave home if you have a “reasonable excuse.” Unless you live on the Isle of Man (and possibly in the Bailliwick of Guernsey) where even a reasonable excuse is no excuse.
What is a reasonable excuse?
It is an excuse which is reasonable.
Can you give me any examples?
There are lots of excuses which are deemed reasonable throughout England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The full list is quite a mouthful but here it is:
In these jurisdictions a reasonable excuse includes:
(a) to obtain basic necessities, including food and medical supplies for those in the same household (including any pets or animals in the household)
(b) to take exercise either alone or with other members of their household;
(c) to seek medical assistance …;
(d) to provide care or assistance … to a vulnerable person, or to provide emergency assistance;
(e) to donate blood;
(f) to travel for the purposes of work or to provide voluntary or charitable services, where it is not reasonably possible for that person to work, or to provide those services, from the place where they are living;
(g) to attend a funeral of—
(i) a member of the person’s household,
(ii) a close family member, or
(iii) if no-one within sub-paragraphs (i) or (ii) are attending, a friend;
(h) to fulfil a legal obligation, including attending court or satisfying bail conditions, or to participate in legal proceedings;
(i) to access critical public services, including—
(i) childcare or educational facilities …;
(ii) social services;
(iii) services provided by the Department of Work and Pensions;
(iv) services provided to victims (such as victims of crime);
(j) … to continue existing arrangements for access to, and contact between, parents and children, …
(k) in the case of a minister of religion or worship leader, to go to their place of worship;
(l) to move house where reasonably necessary;
(m) to avoid injury or illness or to escape a risk of harm.
That seems clear enough. So I can leave the house to exercise as much as I want?
Maybe, but not necessarily, and probably not in Wales.
Why not in Wales?
For obscure reasons the Welsh regulations differ from those in the rest of the UK, and deem that it is reasonable to exercise “no more than once a day.” That does not mean that exercising twice a day is necessarily illegal in Wales. It does mean that if the matter were ever to go to court it would be for you to prove that you had a “reasonable excuse” for doing so. Perhaps if your intended run was curtailed after 5 minutes because you forgot your phone, then you might have a reasonable excuse to go back home and start again. But I expect others can think up more imaginative reasonable excuses.
The English, Scottish and Northern Irish regulations contain no such restriction, despite the Prime Minister’s initial broadcast announcement that exercise was to be permitted only once a day. However, the Prime Minister does not make law by ministerial broadcast.
But although there is no “once a day” rule in England, Scotland or Northern Ireland, you must still “need” to exercise in order to leave home legally under the exercise exemption. If you have no “need” to exercise, a zealous police officer, of whom there seem to be a great many, could still ticket you for breaching the rules.
What is a “need” to exercise though? Oh sorry, I’m meant to be answering the questions, not asking them.
You’ve got me confused now. I live in Wales, can I exercise more than once a day? Yes or no?
Oh alright then. No.
What about England? Can I exercise more than once a day?
Yes, but …
I don’t want to hear any buts. Yes or no?
I’m not a Scottish lawyer but …
Oh for crying out loud, how difficult is it to give a straight answer?
Thank you. Northern Ireland?
How about the Isle of Man?
I’m not a Manx lawyer, but …
Come on, just answer the question.
Yes, but …
I don’t want any buts.
This one is quite interesting.
OK, what’s the “but” about the Isle of Man?
In the Isle of Man you can exercise as much as you like, but it has to be just “one form of exercise.”
In the Isle of Man you can leave your home to exercise as much as you like but you must only undertake “one form of exercise per day.” Paragraph 5 (1) (c) of the Emergency Powers (Prohibitions on Movement) Regulations 2020
What does that mean?
You have to choose. Running. Walking. Bicycling. Gymnastics. Rock-climbing. You can do any one of them as much as you like and as many times as you like, but you have to choose which one and stick with it for that day. You can try a different form the next day if you like.
How many forms of exercise may I undertake in a week in the Isle of Man?
Seven. But not all on the same day. And don’t say “that’s not reasonable,” there is no exemption for leaving the house with a “reasonable excuse” in Manx law.
How can I go rock-climbing unless I can walk to the rocks?
You can go by motorbike. The Isle of Man is good for motorbikes and criss-crossed by roads. The rules say you can leave home “in order to undertake one form of exercise per day,” so I imagine biking to the rock face would be permitted. Just don’t try walking or running there. Anyway, we’re getting diverted.
No, no, this is really interesting stuff. Isn’t riding a motorbike at 120 MPH round a twisty mountain road a form of exercise?
I suppose it could be, yes. But maybe not if you just rode the bike very slowly and cautiously.
How about Jersey?
Ah, Jersey. The rules say you can’t go into any public place at all until 8 a.m. on 13th April, unless you’re an authorised officer, or travelling to your place of work, or if you’re under a legal obligation to go somewhere.
So in Jersey I can’t exercise outside at all?
You can if you have a reasonable excuse.
What is a reasonable excuse?
I’m not a Jersey lawyer, but my hunch is that it means an excuse that is reasonable.
Is exercise deemed a reasonable excuse?
No, it’s not deemed to be a reasonable excuse in Jersey, but it’s not deemed unreasonable either. It all depends.
So can I exercise in Jersey?
Jersey law is silent on the point. Consult a local lawyer.
What about Guernsey?
There is a lockdown of sorts, but the Island’s Chief Minister has admitted that even he doesn’t understand it:
“We have no rule book or precedents. There will be difficult judgments and nobody said it would be easy … and there simply has not been time in many cases to deliver fully fleshed out measures that covers every circumstance.”
At least he sounds honest. What about Sark?
All I know about Sark law is that it has the world’s smallest prison.