Covid-19 – can I go for a run under the new national lockdown?

Jane McGuire
·4-min read

From Runner's World

A new national lockdown has been announced for England in a bid to control the spread of Covid-19. The lockdown rules are different to those imposed at the end of last year and similar to those imposed under the first lockdown, in March last year.

New lockdown:

As outlined on gov.uk, people in England must adhere to the following rules:

  • You should minimise time spent outside your home.

  • You can continue to exercise alone, with one other person or with your household or support bubble.

  • This should be limited to once per day

  • You should not travel outside your local area.

  • You should maintain social distancing.

The rules relating to other activities that are deemed a 'reasonable excuse' to be outside of your home in England can be found here (as can information for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland).

Can I still run with others?

Yes, but only with one other person from another household, or with the people you live with, or your support bubble, and you should ensure social-distancing measures are in place.

What about sessions with my running club?

These are not permitted.

Can I still run on the treadmill at my gym?

No, gyms are closed.

Are there rules on how many times or for how long I can exercise?

Yes. Outside exercise should be limited to once per day and you should not travel outside your local area.

Can I still go outside for a run if I have symptoms of Covid-19 but feel OK?

The most common symptoms of Covid-19 are:

  • a new continuous cough

  • a high temperature

  • a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell (anosmia)

If you have any of the symptoms of Covid-19, you should stay at home and arrange to have a test. Do not go outdoors for exercise. If you live in the same household as someone who has received a positive test result, you must stay indoors and self-isolate for 14 days.

Why is Covid-19 harder to catch outdoors?

We spoke to Dr David Nieman, health professor at Appalachian State University, US, and director of the Human Performance Lab at the North Carolina Research Campus, about how runners can stay safe during the pandemic. Nieman said, ‘It’s safer to be outside than inside when it comes to disease transmission. When people congregate together and someone sneezes or coughs, droplets get onto objects that people touch and then people touch their face’.

When we’re outdoors, we’re much less likely to come into contact with infected surfaces. Tiny particles of the virus (called aerosols) are dispersed by fresh air and by staying two metres away from other people, you are less likely to come into contact with the virus. Breezes, air currents, rain and wind all dilute the possibility of the virus particles being passed from one person and landing on another.

Have the guidelines changed on wearing a mask during exercise?

The guidelines have changed for wearing a mask or face covering, but they don't apply to exercise outdoors. The guidelines state, ‘If you can, wear a face covering in an enclosed space where social distancing isn’t possible and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet. This is most relevant for short periods indoors in crowded areas – for example, on public transport or in some shops.

'A face covering is not the same as the surgical masks or respirators used as part of personal protective equipment by healthcare and other workers; these supplies should continue to be reserved for those who need them to protect against risks in their workplace, such as health and care workers and those in industrial settings like those exposed to dust hazards.'

The government has published guides on making your own face mask here.

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