Two families of children with autism are challenging the UK government over its limit on outdoor exercise.

Lawyers say the limit of one trip out a day is “unlawful and discriminatory” because it disproportionately affects adults and children with disabilities.

Two families of children with autism are challenging the government over its limit on outdoor exercise.

Mencap’s Edel Harris, who wants a reassurance that a tougher lockdown will not prevent those with learning disabilities and autism taking exercise

Solicitors Emma Varley and Jamie Potter, of Bindmans, and barrister Steve Broach, of 39 Essex Chambers, are acting for the families.

The lawyers have vowed to bring a judicial review of the policy.

They have written to the government, demanding confirmation it will change how it applies the restrictions to those with disabilities.

Reduced support

One of the affected families said many disabled people now have “considerably reduced support”.

And if the government fails to consider the needs of disabled people the “situation risks becoming unmanageable”. 

Meanwhile, Mencap says people with autism and learning disabilities must be allowed out even if the government imposes a tougher lockdown.

Threat to stop all exercise

Health secretary Matt Hancock threatened to stop all exercise after pictures emerged of people sunbathing in Brockwell Park, south London.

In France, president Emmanuel Macron said people with autism are exempt from the country’s lockdown. They can visit “reassuring” places, he said.

Macron has said they can travel to familiar places “a little more often” to manage anxiety.

Support for French approach

Mencap chief executive Edel Harris said she would like to “see the same here if a stricter lockdown were enforced”.

Since his initial threats, Hancock later clarified that he didn’t want “anyone to think that any changes to the social distancing rules are imminent”.

The health secretary said the “vast majority” are following the rules.

Autism Eye asked the Department of Health and Social Care to comment, but it did not respond.



Published: 7 April 2020


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