PEOPLE are confused as to whether they can sit and drink a takeaway coffee on a park bench during the third Covid lockdown - and Downing Street doesn't know either.

Asked whether it was within the Covid rules for a single person to sit on a park bench, a Downing Street spokesman offered little clarity.

He told a Westminster briefing: “Let me take that one away and come back to you, on the … park bench question.”

Residents across the North-East and England are being urged to only leave their home when essential and stay local when they do.

Pressed over whether someone could sit on a park bench and have a coffee under the coronavirus regulations, the spokesman added: “We have set out clearly the rules.

“We have been clear in the exemption for the stay-at-home rule, we are permitting one person to meet another person for exercise.”

Current lockdown rules ban households from mixing, with some exceptions including support bubbles and meeting one person, once a day, for exercise. 

Asked if walking outside with a takeaway tea or coffee was against the rules, the spokesman said: “Going for a walk, obviously, does count as exercise."

There has been widespread confusion over whether people can consume takeaway teas or coffees in public but the spokesman reiterated they are, but not for socialising.

He said: “Takeaways are allowed, or restaurants or cafes are allowed to provide takeaways.

“People are allowed to leave their homes if it’s for exercise … not socialising.”

It comes as Boris Johnson warned the public against “false complacency” because the vaccine is being administered, said rules need to be enforced in supermarkets and that people must “avoid mingling too much” after getting takeaway drinks.

The Prime Minister told reporters: “I think what (Professor) Chris Whitty had to say this morning was absolutely right. This is a very perilous moment because everybody can sense that the vaccine is coming in and they can see that the UK is vaccinating large numbers of those that need it most.

“My worry is, and Chris’s worry is, that this is the moment when that degree of false confidence, false complacency, and that when you look at what has happened in the NHS that complacency is not merited.

“More important than us just pushing out new rules, people have got to follow the guidance.

“In supermarkets, people need to be keeping their differences, making sure that they’re wearing masks, doing the right thing.

“We need to enforce the rules in supermarkets. When people are getting takeaway drinks, in cafes, then they need to avoid spreading the disease there, avoid mingling too much.”