Belgium could enforce a 50km limit on bike trips during its coronavirus outbreak.
The Belgian government has implemented emergency lockdown measures, which ban people leaving their homes for non-essential reasons, but outdoor exercise like cycling is currently unrestricted.
Debate over outdoor cycling hasbeen ongoing in the UK, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson said each person can go outside for one type of exercise each day.
British triathlete Joe Skipper caused controversy after he uploaded a 300km, nine-hour ride to Strava on Thursday (March 26), as many people feel riding outdoors could result in crashes and put strain on the NHS.
Belgian Interior Minister Pieter De Crem has now said that cyclists could be limited to 50km trips, as cases of Covid-19 have continued to rise.
According to Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad, De Crem said: “A bicycle trip of 50km is unfortunately no longer possible.”
On whether a 1km exercise limit should be enforced, like in France, he said: “People have the right to go out. If you are only allowed within a radius of 1km, then in cities hundreds of people will be close together. That is certainly not a good thing.
“There is also the psychological aspect – it will be like life in an open-air prison.”
Currently in the UK there is no restrictions or guidance on the distance or duration of your sanctioned one outdoor exercise a day, and the topic splits opinion.
Many people feel that cycling outdoors puts riders at increased risk of injury and would lead to more strain on the NHS, which is already struggling to deal with the coronavirus outbreak.
Others argue that outdoor exercise like cycling is essential to staying healthy, mentally and physically, during lockdown and that riding should be encouraged.
Responding to criticism of his solo ride, Iron Man triathletes and 12-hour time trial specialist Skipper said: “Currently there is no ban. I took precautions and seemed advice from medical professional is that it’s fine to do what I’ve been doing, as long as it’s within government guidelines, which it was.”
He added: “Government guidelines state you can exercise once a day, there’s no time limit on it.
“If they put a ban on outside exercise I’ll adhere to it.”