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People over 70 'will still be allowed to walk dogs' during coronavirus self-isolation, says Minister
16 March 2020, 12:08 | Updated: 16 March 2020, 12:54
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said people over 70 are still allowed to walk their dogs, despite being advised to self-isolate amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Pensioners were told on Sunday that they will, in the coming weeks, be asked to self-isolate for up to four months in order to protect themselves from Covid-19.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock admitted that it was a "very big ask" to get people to quarantine themselves for so long, but added that it was for their own "self-protection."
But speaking to LBC’s Nick Ferrari on Monday, Mr Shapps said “it’s not the case that people would be entirely housebound.”
He said: “In the action plan published at the beginning of this several weeks ago, one of the measures mentioned in there was that elderly people would be asked to stay at home most of the time to ensure that the most vulnerable people - who are the elderly and people with underlying health issues – don’t end up in a serious medical condition.
“I was talking to my parents who are well into their 80s this weekend, helping them to set up online grocery accounts and preparing, and these decisions will be made at further Cobra meetings.
“There’s one today which I’ll be at and as you know we’re meeting very regularly now.”
When asked if he would want to see his parents “locked up for months on end”, Mr Shapps said: “I told my parents that if they had a dog, they would still be able to walk it.
“It’s not the case that people would be entirely housebound, perhaps they would be able to walk their dog if they had one.
“However, it is the case that as you’ve seen from the fatalities so far, is the elderly and or people with underlying health vulnerabilities and we must as a society do everything through this great national effort to protect them.”
Mr Shapps said almost all Britain’s fatalities have been in their 60s and 70s, and “everybody has had an underlying health condition so far.”
He added: “I don’t think any of this is at a compulsion level, we simply want to keep citizens safe.
“I really feel like the whole country wants to come together in a great national effort to beat this thing and keep people safe in the meantime.”
In an interview with Sky News on Sunday, Mr Hancock said emergency legislation would be set out on Tuesday and published on Thursday.
He said he had been working with Labour's shadow health secretary, Jon Ashworth, in deciding what the emergency powers would cover.
"This is a cross-party approach," he added.
"He's made some suggestions of other things that should be in there which we've included. And it includes a broad range of actions, all about preparing Britain, making sure that we're ready, should we need to be."