Covid-19 has thrown our everyday lives into chaos. We’re not going to work, we’re not seeing friends and we all seem to be giving exercise a try - albeit very briefly for some! But it is important to understand the rules and regulations of everything we do in this new world to ensure the safety of both ourselves and others, and that includes cycling. With the tedious amount of lockdowns and tier systems, it’s easy to get confused about what we can and can’t do.
Cycling with friends
Cycling can be one of the best ways to get fit and enjoy the company of your friends. You can go on a leisurely ride in the woods, you can race each other or you can meet up with fellow fanatics at events; or at least you used to be able to! Nowadays, under national lockdown, the rules allow only necessary travel out of the house including physical exercise, which you can now only do either on your own, with a family member or only one person of another household. This applies to all forms of exercise, including cycling and urges that a safe distance is kept between different households when participating.
Failing to apply to any form of social distancing regulations can lead to criminal action such as warnings or fines, so it is strongly advised that you cycle alone to avoid any mistakes. It is also strongly recommended that you stay as local as possible when exercising to ultimately half the spread of any Covid infections from different areas of the UK, especially condensed areas such as cities or neighbouring towns.
While the national lockdown puts more of us in the same situation, there are slight differences in the regulations for each nation in the UK. For example, at the time of writing, regulations in Scotland dictate that your exercise must start and finish in the same location, which is likely in place to ensure that we don’t have several people mixing different localities and potentially creating breakout hotspots. Another difference is the amount of exercise per day too with England being limited to once a day, whereas the other nations are not enforcing a limit on daily exercise.
It is vital that you check your local regulations before setting out and using these flexible conditions of lockdown to ensure you don’t find yourself risking your safety or a fine. Common sense should be applied too, and while it is only England that suggests once a day exercise, it is commendable to follow that guidance regardless of location. Chances are you don’t need to leave the house several times a day to exercise so make the most of your time out of the house and adhere to recommended limitations that are in place to help you and others around you stay safe.
There are, however, a very finite amount of circumstances that exclude you from being required to follow lockdown rules. Circumstances such as elite sport or school-use permit occasions for indoor facilities to be used for exercise, such as private gymnasiums and arenas. One to one instructors in educational situations like external school coaching, elite athletes and permitted community events also allow for slight rule changes however these must be allowed by an authorised figure and also must still keep social distancing rules in place.
People with select disabilities may also be in positions that allow them to engage in particular exercise practices that remove them from lockdown regulations. These are likely reliant upon the availability of authorised locations that can accommodate safe exercise in groups. Like with any of these exceptions, if you’re not sure or will be participating in a situation that you are generally not supposed to do then you should check with local authorities and councils to ensure you have permission and up-to-date information regarding your local regulations.
I’m sure we’ve all been singing happy birthday when we’ve been washing our hands for the last few months, but keeping on top of your hygiene is one of the most effective ways to stop the spread of Covid and any other germs. Every time you leave the house, you must wash your hands before settling down as you never know what you might have picked up from outside in public spaces. Covid can spread like wildfire in popular areas so if you are exercising in public parks or nature reserves, so be sure to also take some hand sanitiser with you so you can apply it every time you touch something like a bench or gate as well as washing your hands as soon as you get in.
It’s also worthwhile to wipe down the handlebars and other contact areas of your bike after every use too. It may seem a bit over the top with disinfecting so frequently, but anything you can do to stop germs spreading will help indefinitely with keeping yourself healthy and Covid-free! Ultimately you have to take all the necessary precautions yourself and treat public outings with caution as if nobody else is taking the same hygienic measures - that way you ensure there is very little chance you will pick anything up physically!
The symptoms of Covid-19 include a high temperature, a new continuous cough and changes to smell or taste, however we all know that you can also be asymptomatic too. It is imperative that you remain isolated at home if you have any of these symptoms, regardless of a positive Covid test or not, as these are orders from the government itself and should not be followed with any leniency. If you have those symptoms it is likely that you will be in no mood to jump on your bike anyway, but if you ever do think about doing so just remember that you are potentially spreading Covid actively in your local area, which is obviously not good for anyone! It isn’t worth the risk on your health or anyone else’s so it’s best to just wait until the symptoms have passed for a bit.
Similar caution should be exercised when it comes to a post-Covid attitude. If you’ve felt the hardships of Covid symptoms then you should be very wary of doing any immediate exercise, even though you don’t have any symptoms as there have been many stories of severe fatigue in the aftermath of a Covid infection which can catch you off-guard. Perhaps prepare yourself to be eased back into exercise, cycling especially, and take things slow to start off with before you end up feeling awful again! It can be disappointing but expect the worst the first time so you are ready to potentially suffer any unusual tiredness!
Our world for the past 12 months has been changed in ways we couldn’t have imagined. Our everyday lives have been turned on its head and we’ve all had to make changes to the way we go about our business, and the same applies to cycling. Make sure you’re aware of your local regulations that are in place to prevent the spread of Covid for the safety of the community, and adhere to all social distancing rules or be prepared to face the consequences! If you can, only cycle on your own in isolated areas that are typically devoid of busy activity. This new life is frustrating, but be prepared to make sacrifices for everyone’s safety.