18 April 2020

Worried about coronavirus while exercising? Go clockwise, says NCA

| Dominic Giannini
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Lake Burley Griffin

There are hundreds of iconic exercise circuits around Canberra that can help you avoid crowds during the pandemic, Chief Minister Andrew Barr says. Photo: File.

The Bridge to Bridge and Central Basin loop are two of Canberra’s most iconic exercise circuits, but the number of people continuing to use the tracks and not adhere to social distancing has put the public at risk of spreading COVID-19.

The National Capital Authority has recommended that residents try taking the Central Basin loop around Lake Burley Griffin in a clockwise direction to minimise the potential of spreading the virus.

But Chief Minister Andrew Barr says there are so many other ways to avoid exposure.

“Strange times breeds strange solutions,” the Chief Minister joked. “The Bridge to Bridge is an iconic Canberra exercise circuit, but there are hundreds of iconic Canberra exercise circuits.

“Even if you are still really keen to go around Lake Burley Griffin, go around East Basin or West Basin, or Western Park, or Scrivener Dam.

“Isn’t it lucky that we live in the best city in the world in which to enjoy outdoor exercise?”

Scrivener Dam

Perhaps you would like to take a walk around Scrivener Dam instead? Photo: Jack Mohr.

But after receiving hundreds of messages over the last few weeks about whether specific activities were allowed, Mr Barr said the crux of the social distancing rules is simple.

“When you strip it all back to what this is about, it is to stay away from other people, that is what all of these measures are put in place for,” he said.

“The simple advice to everyone is to avoid crowds. Assume that either you or the person nearby you could have the virus so keep your distance.

“I think it is obvious. Do not be touching things you do not have to, do not be near people you do not have to. But yes, get out and exercise.”

Chief Police Officer Ray Johnson reiterated this message, saying people going around Lake Burley Griffin were not adhering to social distancing requirements over Easter and this needs to change.

“People aren’t practising social distancing directions in places like the area around Lake Burley Griffin,” he said.

“We do not want the actions of a few to affect future measures to help stop the spread of COVID-19. The health directions are in place to protect everyone’s safety – by reducing our movement in the community and spending as little time with as few people as possible.”

Sports Minister Yvette Berry said sports like tennis and golf that still allow participants to remain distanced from each other were OK, but athletes should just use common sense.

“For our sports communities it is about using common sense, about whether or not you are applying those [social distancing] requirements as we move through this pandemic,” she said.

And if you are still considering exercising around Lake Burley Griffin or within the National Triangle this weekend, perhaps think ahead and use the bathroom before you leave home as the NCA has closed five public toilets for increased cleaning.

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What about pedestrians and cyclists that use the bridges for transport to work NOT recreation? Extremely inconvenient.

What COVID is showing exercising Canberran’s is the embarrassing amount of space devoted to pedestrian and cycling crossings of the lake. King’s Avenue has about 14-16 metres of width for cars — and barely 2 metres of width for pedestrians AND cyclists.

Pedal Power — if you want Canberra to be more bike friendly, advocate for more crossing space across the lake! Don’t suggest daft things to the NCA — like clockwise travel.

I’m prepared to go out on a limb and say this is abject nonsense from a risk perspective, particularly relative to other activities allowed.

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