People”need parks” and councils must keep them open, Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick has stated.
But does shutting a lot of these and banning outside exercise help stop the spread of coronavirus?
Why have some parks closed and some not?
Closing parks and recreational areas is up to local governments, and some took this step after people began congregating in warmer weather, regardless of social distancing measures.
Many have since reopened, but Middlesbrough’s mayor Andy Preston says those in his city will stay shut.
In a post on social networking, Mr Preston said parks themselves weren’t dangerous, but”people mixing and gathering inappropriately could be fatal”.
Elsewhere, London’s Lambeth Council closed Brockwell Park on the first weekend in April after large amounts gathered to sunbathe.
People around the United Kingdom are now being advised to just leave their houses for the following reasons:
- To search for essentials and food, but as infrequently as possible
- To take one form of exercise per day – walking, running or biking
- To travel to work, if it is not possible to work from home
Official advice now says exercise should be done at home if you or any other people in your household have possible signs of coronavirus.
The government has stated it isn’t likely to stop outdoor exercise differently, but has renewed warnings against sunbathing during the present restrictions.
On 16 April, authorities advice was published about what constitutes a valid reason for leaving your dwelling. The advice, which mainly applies to England, lists driving into the countryside for a walk as”reasonable” if”a lot more time” is spent walking than driving.
But it adds that forcing for a”prolonged period with only short exercise” is not fair.
It also says a man or woman is permitted to stop for a rest in exercise. However brief periods of exercise followed by extended periods of inactivity aren’t permitted (so a brief walk followed by a period of sunbathing wouldn’t be allowed).
How would closing parks help?
It seems more people are likely to parks than in the beginning of the lockdown – though the weather is a huge element.
The government is worried individuals may pass the virus involving themselves in parks, defeating the objective of the present restrictions on movement.
Prof. John Edmunds, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, explains there were three ways that the virus could be transmitted:
Touching an infected surface and then your face with unwashed hands
From tiny particles that remain suspended in the atmosphere (aerosols)
From bigger droplets that quickly fall into the floor – the particles in both instances coming from coughing and sneezing, such as
To attempt and avoid that individuals should stay at the recommended 2m (6ft) space from others. However, a US study has suggested that coughs can reach 6m and sneezes 8m.
The government’s latest concern is that crowded parks and people sitting on seats could indicate that people aren’t staying far enough apart, and so there’s a threat of infection.
What problems would stopping outdoor exercise cause?
If outside exercise has been stopped, it would be a specific issue for people without access to a garden.
Labour’s new deputy leader Angela Rayner said it was”all right for folks that have got large houses and enormous back gardens” to inform people sunbathing while watching social distancing to
“The health consequences of this lockdown that we expect – increased alcohol intake, domestic violence, depression and anxiety, poor diet and decreased physical activity – will get worse if we limit us to our houses, without the hugely significant respite that outdoor exercise provides.”
Carl Heneghan, professor of evidence-based medicine at University of Oxford, pointed to limited evidence that individuals who exercise suffer the symptoms of diseases like Covid for fewer days.
He also worried that individuals with other health conditions do much worse with the virus, and if people stop working out they’re more likely to have other ailments.