SCOTLAND’S mountain bikers have been told to put their cycles away this Easter weekend, after the government’s chief advisor introduced new definitions on what should and what should not count as daily exercise. 

But Jason Leitch’s comments have sparked questions from the Green MSP Andy Wightman, who said the National Clinical Director’s comments were “problematic.”

Speaking at the daily coronavirus briefing alongside the First Minster earlier today, Professor Leitch urged Scots to “stay the course” on social distancing and spend as much of this weekend indoors.

“You can leave home for the four reasons that you now know well,” he said.

“Can I just emphasise that exercise is exercise, not recreation, not your hobby. It's not the time to go mountain biking. You need to just use it for 30, up to 60 minutes from your home to exercise to stay healthy and then stay at home.

"So please do that because every time you do it literally lives are saved.”

Lockdown legislation introduced by MPs and backed by MSPs last month, states that “no person may leave the place where they are living” unless that have a reasonable excuse. Taking exercise is one of those reasonable excuses. 

READ MORE: SNP MP slams 'selfish' people flouting lockdown to visit Highlands

In a series of tweets, Wightman pointed out that the legislation did not say what should count as exercise or how long that exercise should last. 

He wrote: “First off, Government guidance is not the same as the Regulations (eg guidance is exercise once a day - Regulations say nothing about frequency). It is the job of the Police to enforce the law, not Govt guidance. 

“It is however imperative that everyone follows Government guidance - stay at home leaving only for essential purposes. This is of fundamental importance to curtail the spread of the virus, protect the NHS and save lives. 

“But is it also important that the law is clear about what is and what is not lawful. Police Scotland appear to be taking a fair and proportionate approach in enforcement - engaging, advising and only enforcing in small number of egregious violations.

“it is vital that people take as much care of their physical & mental health as possible & that's why it is right that folk can leave home ‘to take exercise, either alone or with other members of their household’. But what constitutes exercise has become problematic.

“Today, the National Clinical Director, Jason Leitch, told us that ‘Exercise is exercise, not recreation, not your hobby, you can't use it to go mountain biking, only exercise to stay healthy ....’

“I have also spoken to constituents who've been advised not to sit in the park or not to birdwatch by the Water of Leith. 

“There are 2 issues here. First the regulations should perhaps be amended to make clear that people can undertake the activities most suited to maintaining their own physical or mental health. It is unfair on Police to expect them to assess what is ‘a reasonable excuse’ here. 

“Second, mental health is as important (maybe in some cases even more important) than physical health. Sitting by a river, gazing at the stars, watching birds, sitting on a park bench are all things that sustain health & can all be carried out safely with social distancing. 

“The Regulations have never been scrutinised by Parliament (though we approved them). They should be as liberal as is consistent with the public health imperatives. I hope that the 1st review by 16 April takes this into account.”

Meanwhile, Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland tweeted: ”Mountain biking is not just a hobby it is a form of exercise and is essential for the physical and mental well being of many riders."

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