Pokemon Go players have slammed police officers for ‘prohibiting enjoyment’ after they warned it doesn’t count as daily exercise.
They accused Essex Police of enforcing a "no fun allowed" rule during lockdown.
The force said it had "cause to speak with" a number of men, all aged over 30, after they were spotted playing the game in Rochford, Essex.
But the social media post on Monday, which came attached with guidance to abide by the Covid-19 rules, has since been deleted.
The statement sparked a backlash, with critics accusing the police of “gatekeeping”.
One Facebook user wrote: "Walking is EXERCISE. We are allowed to go out to exercise for one hour a day.
"So what if they are playing a game for that hour? They are still exercising, just with their phone in their hands. Where's the harm in that?
"Walking for an hour, just for exercise is boring as hell. At least the game makes it more enjoyable."
One Reddit user added: "It's still exercise? Are they going to stop anyone who listens to music or chats on the phone on their walk, too?
"Are we all expected to march along in grim silence, devoid of anything that may make a freezing walk in January slightly more enjoyable?"
While another posted: “When confused about lockdown rules, ask yourself this: is what I want to do fun? If the answer is yes, it's not allowed."
People are allowed to go for a walk as part of their daily exercise under England’s tough coronavirus restrictions.
Guidance says it should be limited to once a day and people shouldn’t travel outside their local area.
The police post said: "Our team have had cause to speak with a number of different men, aged 30 plus over the last week, who seemed to feel it is acceptable to attend certain public places within the district, to hunt Pokemon.
“Honestly, yes, you did read that correctly.”
A police spokesman said: "We were called to concerns of people making non-essential journeys in the Rochford area last week.
"We issued a tweet to remind the public of government guidelines re non-essential travel.
"The tweet was issued in good faith but was later deleted to ensure the appropriate level of seriousness when sharing crucial partnership and safety messages about the pandemic.”
The UK’s death toll rose by 1,243 on Tuesday, taking the total to 83,203.
A further 45,533 Covid cases were also reported.