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Keir Starmer backs Matt Hancock’s threat to ban outdoor exercise if social distancing rules are broken

Keir Starmer backs Matt Hancock’s threat to ban outdoor exercise if social distancing rules are broken

Matt Hancock says the Government may have to ban exercise if social distancing rules are not adhered to (PA)

3 min read

Labour’s new leader Sir Keir Starmer said his party would back the Government if it took the draconian move of banning all outside exercise during the coronavirus pandemic.

It comes after Matt Hancock warned people to “follow the rules” after reports people were flouting official social distancing measures amid Saturday’s warm weather.

Speaking on Sky News the health secretary branded sunbathers “unbelievable” and accused those out enjoying the weekend sunshine of “putting lives at risk”.

But speaking on the BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show he went further, suggesting the Government could be forced to bring in stricter measures.

He said “both the physical and mental health benefits of getting some exercise are really important”, and he did not want to take it away.

However, he added: “If the result 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 go out and do other things’, then I’m afraid we’ll have to take action.

"I don't want to have to take that action, of course I don't, but we have already demonstrated that we are prepared to take the action that's necessary to get this virus under control.

"So my message is really clear; 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 and the vast majority people are following the rules.

"Let's not have a minority spoiling it for everybody."

Appearing on the same programme Mr Starmer, who won the race to replace Mr Corbyn as Labour leader, was asked if he would support such a measure.

“Yes we would,” he replied. “We do have to take whatever steps are necessary.

“Social distancing, staying indoors, is really difficult for people. It’s particularly difficult if you don’t have a garden or you live in a flat, and I know there are many people in overcrowded accommodation.

“But we’ve got to get through this, and every time people break the guidance from the Government they put other people at risk because if the health service can’t cope, people will die.”

Sir Keir added: “People can see that that’s happening every day. I know it’s tough, I know it’s difficult, we are all missing each other.

"We realise how much social contact matters, but I would support the Government in this if that’s what they decide to do.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson also tweeted urging people to stay at home on Sunday, writing: "Thank you 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. #StayHomeSaveLives."

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