WATCH: Patel gets “very simple and clear” Covid rules wrong in press briefing

Elliot Chappell

Priti Patel has wrongly explained the restrictions implemented by the government to suppress the surging numbers of coronavirus cases – just moments after she described those same rules as “very simple and clear”.

Addressing the public in a televised Downing Street conference this evening, the Home Secretary incorrectly told those watching that under government guidance they are allowed to leave home for “outdoor recreation”.

She said: “The rules are actually very simple and clear. We are meant to stay at home and only leave home for a very, very limited number of reasons and that is obviously to go to work only if you cannot work from home.

“In terms of schools, schools are open for children, pupils, of key workers. And then, of course, outdoor recreation but in a very, very restricted and limited way – staying local. I’ve said that several times over the last week.”

The government website states: “It is against the law to meet socially with family or friends unless they are part of your household or support bubble. You cannot leave home for recreational or leisure purposes (such as for a picnic or a social meeting).”

The coronavirus press conference held by Patel, alongside chair of the national police chiefs’ council Martin Hewitt and NHS medical director for London Dr Vin Diwakar, was the first led by the Home Secretary since May last year.

Patel’s appearance comes amid confusion around the rules in England. Two women received fines for driving to go for a walk with cups of coffee last week, and the penalties were at first defended by ministers but later quashed by the police.

Boris Johnson came under pressure after he was seen cycling seven miles from his Downing Street home in London on Sunday, which led to further questions around what constitutes “local” in the Covid guidance.

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