No 10 insists Boris Johnson's east London bike ride did not break Covid rules

Boris Johnson pictured in 2016. Credit: PA

Downing Street has insisted a bike ride by Boris Johnson - which took place seven miles from his home - did not break Covid-19 rules, despite lockdown guidance saying people should only exercise locally.

The prime minister's official spokesman told a Westminster briefing that Mr Johnson was in east London's Olympic Park to "exercise, which is in accordance with the guidance".

He added: "The Prime Minister acted in accordance with the Covid guidance while he was exercising.

"We have always trusted the public to exercise good judgment throughout the pandemic when we have asked them to exercise locally."

The spokesman did not say how far someone can travel to take exercise and sidestepped a question on whether people can drive or take public transport to exercise.

Government guidance currently tells the public to only exercise in their local area - but there is no distance set by law.

Mr Johnson's spokesman said the public had been asked to "exercise good judgement" of the rules, but ambiguity about what distance people can travel for exercise has caused confusion.

Police leaders, including Met Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick have said it would help officers if the government provided further clarity on what the rules are.

Asked about the PM’s bike ride, Ms Dick told BBC Radio 4 that "stay local" is a "relative term" with no exact definition, adding that Mr Johnson's trip was "not against the law".

Asked if the law and guidance needed to be clarified, she said: “That is certainly something that government could consider. Absolutely.”

Downing Street has refused to confirm whether Mr Johnson was driven for his bike ride, or whether he cycled there, but Ms Dick said either method would be permitted under the law.

“For me, a reasonable interpretation of that is… go for your exercise from your front door and come back to your front door. That’s my view of local.“But some people will need to get in a car to get over three dual carriageways to get to where they’re going to walk the dog.  It is complicated. I understand that. But everybody needs to try to do their best. It’s a health crisis.”

A lack of clarity over the rules was highlighted after police in Derbyshire incorrectly fined two women last week for driving five miles in separate cars to exercise at a beauty spot.

The women, who were originally fined £200 for meeting for what they thought was a socially-distanced walk, have had their penalty charge notice rescinded.

They say they have now accepted an apology from the force’s apology and are pleased to "draw a line under this event".

Mr Johnson's press secretary Allegra Stratton, asked if Mr Johnson regretted his bike ride, said: "He will ... be doing bike rides again - you all know how much he loves his bike."