Quarantine Times Quarantine Sights

London; near three weeks into the Quarantine that is commonly named The Lock Down has now more or less encouraged novel habits of behaviour. Cyclists are competing to see how many miles each day or week they can push the pedals.

Reports are circulating that some cyclists are on the road for many hours on each outing. One in particular has posted remarks on-line that he had had a “mega week, 7 days 700 miles.” While another has boasted he has been in the saddle for 11 hours in one day. Which is hardly what was intended with the government’s exhortation to exercise daily, locally and for only an hour during the great quarantine.

Since the start of April some 30,000 cyclists in Britain have signed up to a challenge organised by an on-line application named STRAVA. The aim of the challenge is to cycle a total of 777 miles in a calendar month. In London walking certain roads has an aspect of a major cycling event taking place perhaps the Tour of Britain.

Dozens of cyclists are observed on a single bridge across the Thames enveloped in spandex and hurtling along main roads with many at full speed as if in competition. Others more sedate and dressed more casually are ploughing along.

Meanwhile side roads are deserted with the occasional pedestrian ambling long, more frequent though than pedestrians are the runners who are also all too often also encased in a variety of sports wear.

These individuals are out for a jog and puffing, panting and perspiring heavily though more obviously than cyclists as they spend their Government sanctioned ‘one hour of exercise taken locally’.

Many it seemed to me jogging for perhaps the first time. Meanwhile the parks of which London is happily very well endowed are crowded with all manner of people doing what people do, socialising, though at a distance. Some fearful souls scamper off to one side to keep a maximal distance as one walks along a path though most will give each other a wide berth and greet softly with a “hello” or a “good morning.”

Some though are sunbathing and others to the horror of police and your correspondent have set up a BBQ or picnic. A small minority to be sure, but still makes you wonder. In this era of TV, Radio and ubiquitous social media as well as online news channels have they not seen or heard of the great quarantine? Of course the weather has been kinder than we had any expectation of.

The challenge that the warm sunshine has presented of late has been extreme. Little rain and warmer than usual has led the Greater Manchester police, the UK’s second largest police area, to report that they had broken up more than 600 parties some of which had DJ’s and or fireworks with one gathering even a bouncy castle.

All that on the second weekend of the great quarantine with the long Easter weekend in prospect leading to something of a panicked redoubling of exhortations by the authorities. “Stay Home, protect the NHS and Save Lives”.

Good weather, the epidemic and the new habits we are exhorted to adopt to keep safe and protect the NHS were a great challenge for the general public. Though the daily roll call of those taken by the virus is sobering enough a party with a bouncy castle is telling. While the Quarantine message was not universally heeded, so far its seems enough have to have made a difference. Take care.

Nick Horne, London, England

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