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The threat of banning outdoor exercise has filled me with fear

Holyrood

The threat of banning outdoor exercise has filled me with fear

Watching UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock threaten to remove outdoor exercise from the government-sanctioned reasons for leaving the house has filled me with fear and an overwhelming sense of sadness.

Going out for a walk with my family has become the thing I look forward to at the end of each day.

It’s a way to get rid of any tensions – of which, there are many – breathe in some fresh air, listen to sounds that aren’t associated with my house (back-to-back Peppa Pig, the washing machine, the non-stop drone of the coffee machine) and just appreciate that there’s still a larger world outside the confines of our own insular one.

But as much as I crave the feeling of being somewhere, anywhere, that offers a change of scenery and a bit of exercise, I also know I am one of the lucky ones and there are many, many more people who rely upon it more than I do.

I can’t help but think about all those people for whom going outside for their daily walk, run or cycle is a lifeline.

Those families living in flats with no gardens; people who are living far away from family; grandparents missing the soft touch of a grandchild’s hand; those living in abusive relationships where home has become a prison; those who are frantically worried about ill or elderly relatives they cannot care for or hug; those struggling with their mental health; vulnerable people terrified of an invisible killer; children missing the laughter of their schoolfriends.

For some, getting outdoors, even just for half an hour a day, is enough to make all the fear, the loneliness, the absolute craziness of the world we are now living in, just about bearable.

Of course, I understand the reasons why we might lose the one glimmer of hope we have in this time of darkness. People sunbathing in parks and having barbecues on the beach are enough to make us despair of human nature.

That level of blatant disregard for people’s health cannot be tolerated as it makes a mockery of the whole principle of social distancing.

But when even Dr Catherine Calderwood, Scotland’s now disgraced former chief medical officer, cannot follow the rules, it’s not surprising that some pockets of society are continuing to flout the government guidance.

Some people are still living in an invincibility bubble which is both naïve and selfish in equal measures, and that bubble needs to be popped before we lose the last fragment of freedom and normality that we have.

No-one is immune to this virus – just ask Boris Johnson – but unless we start to realise this, our one little bit of freedom will be snatched away from us and we will be far worse off for it.

Read the most recent article written by Gemma Fraser - Talking point: The last goodbye – a socially distanced funeral

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