No10 insisted that the Prime Minister’s Sunday afternoon cycle around the East London Olympic Park had not broken the rules – despite orders to “stay local” during the exercise.
Home Secretary Priti Patel is expected to deliver a No.10 briefing later today, as the government focuses on tighter enforcement of lockdown rules to curb the outbreak of the virus.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick said a clearer definition of what “staying local” meant in practice was needed.
She told the BBC: “Anything that brings greater clarity to officers and the general public will be a good thing. ”
Dame Cressida was quiet about what she thought of the Prime Minister’s ride, but added: “What I can say is that it is not illegal. ”
She vowed officers would launch a new crackdown on rule breakers amid the surge in Covid-19 cases.
“We will move more quickly to law enforcement, and especially when someone is breaking the law, breaking the regulations, and if it is absolutely clear that they must have known, or knows they are doing it, then we will go very quickly to the application and fine people, ”she told the BBC.
When asked about the row over Mr Johnson’s bike ride, Police Secretary Kit Malthouse admitted that ‘staying local’ meant different things to different people.
He told Times Radio: “What we’re asking people to do is exercise to stay local. Now local is obviously open to interpretation, but people basically know what local means.
“If you can do it on your own and you don’t interact with someone… then that makes perfect sense to me. ”
Downing Street declines to say whether the PM cycled or was driven to Olympic Park, where he was spotted.
Mr Malthouse supported officers asking people where they were going – but admitted it was a “significant change” in British policing.
“The police are definitely going to get a lot of media coverage and they recognize the gravity of the situation facing their colleagues in the health service and elsewhere,” he said.
“It is certainly part of the job of the police to stop people and find out why they are outside their homes.
“This is a very important change and it is a challenge for the UK police which is based on a consent model.
“The gravity of the situation we are facing is such that I think there is no other option. ”