Why are the parks closed?

A report from the Red Zone

We’re almost a week into the lockdown here, and until Saturday morning there was almost no change from my normal life. Work from home? Check. See hardly any living souls in the flesh? Check. The new rules made life a little difficult. The lack of a morning cappuccino is hard, but bearable. Standing two metres apart outside the supermarket and the small local grocery stores likewise. As I’ve told anyone who’ll listen, the Italians are demonstrating the pure Blitz Spirit while my fellow Brits are pure Dad’s Army.

On Saturday morning I was astonished to find the local park closed. According to the Mayor of Rome, the nice weather is encouraging people out into the parks, which would become too crowded. This is absolute nonsense. First of all, the park is absolutely huge. More importantly, being in the fresh air is possibly the safest place to be, especially if you are not too close to anybody else.

I went for an urban stroll instead, armed with my official form in which I self-certified that I was out of the house “for reasons of health,” which is pretty ironic in its way.

Yesterday evening it really struck me how much this one small change had affected me. For the first time, I felt really depressed about the whole business. I need my walks, morning and evening. They are what make working at home doable. It isn’t just the exercise or the change of scene, because the scene on my walks remains the same, bar the changing seasons. No, it is something deeper than that, something about over-reacting, something about not understanding what at least some locked-down people need.

This morning I went for a ride along the Tiber, which was great for blowing out the cobwebs, and I have felt better today. I almost got off my bike to remonstrate with a couple walking hand-in-hand. For God’s sake, don’t they realise what a danger they are to each other?

One thing I can’t and won’t do on the bike, though, is listen to podcasts, so that backlog is growing. And my bum hurts. But I think a ride every couple of days might do the trick.

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