‘We’d be better at the Olympics if people really exercised this much’
Police commander questions the number of people on the streets
31 March, 2020 — By Bronwen Weatherby
CAMDEN’s most senior police chief says exercising too far from home should be avoided and suggested people walk around their garden or run up and down stairs instead.
The government’s Covid-19 lockdown guidelines allow members of the public to leave the house for one hour of exercise a day.
However, Chief Superintendent Raj Kohli urged those making use of the hour out of their homes to “exercise their common sense” when following the lockdown rules.
He said: “I was on patrol this weekend and the streets were not as busy as you’d expect but they were busier than they should’ve been and the main reason for that was people exercising.
“If that many people exercised on a regular basis in the UK then we’d be better at the Olympics.
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“I sense people have taken up an hour of exercise since the Covid-19 lockdown. But people need to be asking themselves – is it critical?
“Boris Johnson said the government might need to get tougher before things get easier, we wouldn’t have to if people listened.
“I still think people think it’s not as serious as it is telling by the volume of people out and about. And I think it will only start to land with people when people they love are directly affected which will happen.
“Exercise is fine but people need to exercise their common sense. Because some people are even using exercise as an excuse to meet friends.
“Don’t get me wrong I understand people’s frustration. When I’m at work usually I’m doing lots of steps a day and I visit the gym three or four times a week. But now I can’t do that, I’m not walking around for an hour outside or going on a run because it’s not worth the risk of me possibly passing the virus onto someone else.
Chief Superintendent Raj Kohli
“Although not many in central London have gardens, if you are lucky enough to have a garden or outdoor space, then walk around the garden. If you have stairs, walk up and down the stairs a few times. There are also plenty of home exercises to do and videos on YouTube.”
The police commander’s directives come after a slew of fines were handed out to people in the borough on Sunday and one man arrested for spitting at a hotel worker after suggesting he was infected with coronavirus.
The man was arrested on suspicion of public order offences after police were called at 11.35pm on Sunday, March 29 to reports of a disturbance outside a hotel in Guildford Street.
He was said to have been verbally abusive and was creating a disturbance in the street and was said to have spat at a member of staff at the hotel. During the course of the disturbance, the man shouted that he had coronavirus.
Speaking to the New Journal about the number of enforcements made over the weekend, Chief Supt Kohli said: “I was expecting those sorts of numbers in two to three weeks time when people become more bored and frustrated, I didn’t expect it now.
“Our priority is to engage with people who are misunderstanding the directions given by the government and we’ll encourage them to go home but if they still fail to understand then we’ll enforce.
“Spitting on anybody is unacceptable and can and often is a crime of assault and if someone commits an assault we arrest them.
“If you spit in this environment and suggest you have coronavirus there are cases across Britain where they’ve been given an immediate one year sentence. Arrested, taken to Magistrates’ Court the next day and banged up. I’ve got no sympathy for people who spit.”
Chief Supt Kohli said there were no plans currently for the force to use spit hoods more widely as a measure to protect against this type of coronavirus-related crime.