Lockdown Diaries: Day 35

The last time I wrote a lockdown post was on day 14. Time flies when you're losing your mind. But as of today, we are captive no more! Today marks the first day of state capture level 4; a stipulation of mostly captivity with a few hours of freedom each day where people enthusiastically try to infect their neighbours with the virus.

I'm talking about the nonsensical government directive which allows the ENTIRE COUNTRY to go out and exercise between the hours of 6am and 9am. Just the idea of it is insane, but it is nothing compared to what actually happened on the streets and trails and in public spaces this morning.

The WHOLE country came out to play, emerging blinking into the great outdoors after a captive coma. Mothers, fathers and their 27 kids, grandmas and grandpas, couples in love (no social distancing) and couples on the brink of divorce (still social distancing even though they self isolate together), runners and cyclists, people who used to run and cycle, people who have never run or cycled in their life but TODAY was the day for new beginnings...the list goes on. And the dogs! Big dogs, small dogs, dogs that didn't stop barking, dogs that frothed at the mouth (I assume from excitement but otherwise you should get that checked, Karen), dogs that looked like guinea pigs, dogs that resembled an overgrown bush (they're having the same haircut issues that we are)....dogs everywhere.

Mark went out for the customary Freedom Day run at 7.15am and returned to report scenes reminiscent of Waterloo Station at rush hour. Boyes Drive, the hilly road near our house that is a favourite for cardio training, was less a road and more a venue for meet and greets. The fields in our suburb were so densely populated with bodies that small trees were rendered temporarily invisible. When I tried to drive down my close with dog and child in tow on the way to a hopefully less populated field for a walk (narrator: it was not less populated), I had to stop dead in the middle as a swarm of families converged around my car, making ten pin bowling for kids the only likely outcome if I'd kept on going.

After our disastrous walk which consisted of zigzagging frantically across the field like a drunk skier to avoid other dogs (my dog is not a fan of other dogs; I like to say she's just very good at social distancing), we drove the 2 minutes home all sweaty and sweary and not at all satisfied. I decided to remedy this by going for a run on my own.

What. A. Clusterf**k. Let's be clear, our government has been fantastic throughout this whole mess and I couldn't be prouder of the way we have come together as a nation. But even greatness makes mistakes and this one is catastrophic. The chance of getting the virus increased by about a thousand million percent after spending an hour outdoors this morning. As I ran up Boyes Drive, I passed about a hundred other people at various distances going at varying speeds. I had no idea the whole of Westlake and Lakeside were such fitness fanatics. Sweat was flying, limbs were pumping and smiles - some behind masks, some not - were stretching cheeks to their maximum. I have never been greeted by so many excitable people on one day, ever. It's as if no one has seen another friendly face in 35 days...oh, wait. I don't count the shops, the shops are different. There you stare openly at people who sniff and you deliberately stand with not even a toe across your designated red tape in the queue, aggressively daring the person behind you to take even a small step towards you before the queue shuffles forward.

Not so this morning. Smiles and hellos were tossed about like coconuts at a shy, people's heads nearly rotated 360 degrees as they craned to look up at the mountain or down at the vlei (lake) below. Okes were stoked!!! (for my British friends: mates were chuffed). I tried my best to weave in and out of the crowded pavements quickly and with as much distance as possible, but who knows how I did. Eventually I figured speed was my best bet and ran so fast that I nearly had a heart attack, which of course just looks like you're in the first throes of COVID and is not really a vibe on a crowded street.

The photos of central Cape Town this morning look like we're hosting a major sporting event and everyone is on their way to the stadium. So that was day one of level 4. I predict a rapid retreat to level 5 or more hopefully, an extension of exercise hours so that we don't have to rub shoulders with our neighbours on a casual morning stroll. Now, does anybody know where I can find one of those mobile testing units...

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