Just when we thought it was starting to get better: the confinement has become a lot less manageable. In what is an affront that I take personally, the city of Paris has decided that the next threat to spreading contagion are the joggers. Therefore, there will be no more running between 10hr and 19hr until further notice.
10hr to 19hr are of course the hours of the day when the brilliant sunshine actual finds its way through the maze of brick and stone to hit concrete. Under normal conditions I would never go for a jog during the day. There are too many people out and about, too many cars. The air is the cleanest in the morning when the streets are empty.
But these are anything but normal times. The day has become the best time for running, the prime hours to taste a bit of freedom. Few cars roam the streets. The air quality has never been better. The warmth of the sun on exposed arms and legs. The blue of the midday sky.
For those of us that do not have a balcony or access to direct sunlight, the middle of the day run is primordial for keeping something that resembles sanity. Paris has taken this away. They cite the unusually large number of joggers as a health risk. (No shit there are more joggers, no one can do any other sort of sport!) They cite the fact that a lot of people claim to be out for a jog but they are just spending time outside, abusing the system and putting everyone else at risk.
Let me tell you something Paris, something that I thought you would understand: people who do not respect the rules will always find ways to break them. Targeting a subset of the population only breeds dissent and division while the rule breakers continue to flaunt their obligation to society.
Look out on the streets right now and there are tons of people. The laws state that you can still go for a walk. I see the slow walkers, faces lifted towards the sun, chatting in groups, dog owners spending hours doing laps around the church. People coming and going and lingering. Lingering everywhere.
But whatever you do, you better not run! Not between 10hr and 19hr. No, no, that’s no good. Want to go outside? Buy a dog to befoul our streets or go smoke some cigarettes. Heaven forbid that people who are forced into sedentary lifestyles caged in the shadows go out for some cardio and a little vitamin D!
I respect these difficult confinement laws. I go straight to the store and straight home and not everyday. I drew out a radius of 1km around my home so that I would know exactly how far to go when I run. That excludes the best parts of my usual runs, along the Parc de la Villette or Arsenal. I follow the rules.
And that’s the real reason for this absurd decree: joggers follow the rules. Faced with mounting pressure to get more people off the streets the government singled out a group that is visible. A group that is responsible. A group that will heed the decree. The rule breakers will just check a different box on their attestation to go outside. The joggers will lace up at dawn.
Will it have an effect on the effort to confine the population? Visibly, maybe. It will be easier for police to check everyone else if they were spending too much time with the joggers. Will that lead to less lawbreaking? Probably not. Will the loss of this essential outing strip much needed morale from a group that is trying their best to weather the confinement? Definitely.
It’s not worth the trade off.