During the beautiful spring mornings in lockdown, I often perch my face on the edge of my hands whilst the window is wide open to feel the fresh air. I hear the birds and the gentle hum of traffic, which has gradually gotten louder since the loosening of the lockdown. Opposite is a block of flats with individual balconies. I often spend time looking at those balconies and wishing my experience of being outdoors didn’t depend on having to be in a public space.
Admittedly, I haven’t been doing a lot in lockdown, but I have been spending a lot of time thinking. Thinking about the politics of space and how the experience of this virus is so different for everyone. I think of myself as somewhat privileged, as I get to stay at home with the security of the furlough scheme whilst others are still working. There are NHS workers who are exposing themselves to the virus everyday and some still lack PPE. Sometimes I think, do I have a right to worry about something trivial like someone getting too close to me outdoors?
Living in a third floor flat, being outside now feels like a luxury. Many people across the country live in similar conditions and have to rely on the compliance of others in public spaces to engage in something so previously straightforward and part of the everyday. Others take this for granted as they freely lounge in their gardens, without the worry that someone less responsible could impinge on their personal safety.
In the more severe days of lockdown, I noticed the courteous actions of others who made an effort to keep two meters apart, even when footpaths didn’t easily allow for it. People would go up on verges or even step back and wait for you to pass. It was nice. Even then, the anxiety of having to trust others to comply with social distancing would smear the natural love I had of the outdoors. The prospect of simply taking a short walk around my local park, has managed to morph itself into a genuine fear. With the allowance of “unlimited” time spent outdoors and being able to meet people at a distance, I now feel even more uneasy about going outdoors.
“Unlimited exercise and time spent outdoors, appears to have eradicated the importance of social distancing and respect for others.”
For many, trips to public parks are the only time to take a breath of fresh air and a break from the same four walls. But we should not have to put our own safety on the line to simply go outside. As someone who previously loved the outdoors, I am now more afraid of it. I am afraid of not being able to predict the actions of others which have become more reckless since the loosening of the lockdown. Unlimited exercise and time spent outdoors, appears to have eradicated the importance of social distancing and respect for others.
I now find myself weighing up the pros and cons before going out for some fresh air. I know it would be safer for me to stay indoors, but these days, as the warm sun and dancing greenery tempts me from behind the glass, I long for the days when I can enjoy the outdoors worry free.
Images courtesy of Pixabay.