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Exercise with another person is “a lifeline” for people, particularly those who live alone, Matt Hancock has said. 

Asked if he would specifically change the rule on people meeting one other person outside, the Health Secretary told the BBC: “We always keep these things under review, but you’ve got to balance the downsides.

“The rule is clear. You can go outside to exercise with one other person, not a group of people, one other person, and it should be for the purposes of exercise, not socialising, but I’m very reluctant to remove this rule because for some people this is a lifeline – for some people who live alone.”

When two people meet for socially-distanced exercise, the “likelihood of spread from people who are following that rule is very, very small”, he added, but noted that some people are “stretching that rule”.

Rather than getting rid of the exemption, he said it would be better if everyone “follows that rule and doesn’t stretch it or flex it … people should not take the Mickey out of the rules and they shouldn’t stretch the rules, people should respect the rules, because they’re there for a reason and that’s to keep everybody safe.”

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