COMMENT:

As we head into a four-week lockdown, New Zealand outdoor lovers are wondering whether this period can still involve some time outdoors, in nature.

The answer is, technically, yes. As long as you do it on your own or with those you're self-isolating with.

Ethically, no.

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The outdoors are a privilege. A lockdown is not supposed to be a holiday, as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said yesterday. We are not meant to expect to carry on doing things we normally do.

Many say it is still okay to get outdoors because you are not likely to see another person out on some trails. While that's true, there are many other things to take into consideration.

In essence, every time you leave your house during the lockdown period, you are increasing the risk of spread. So the question to ask is whether what you are doing is worth risking keeping us in lockdown for longer.

Yes, you can get outdoors during the lockdown - but should you? Photo / Getty Images
Yes, you can get outdoors during the lockdown - but should you? Photo / Getty Images

You're already going to have to leave the house for truly essential things like buying food for yourself and the people in your bubble or getting medication from the pharmacy. Those are non-negotiable because not doing them threatens your survival.

Going out for a run on the trails? Not really.

It's a matter of common sense: if you have a trail within five minutes of your home, by all means go and enjoy it. We are so lucky in New Zealand, a place where most people live near a local park where dogs and children can run around on the grass safely, where everyone can breathe a bit of fresh air.

If, however, you have to drive to a trail, there are multiple things in that activity that put your community at risk. For that reason, you should not drive anywhere to partake in any outdoor activities such as running, walking or riding a bike.

Police commissioner Mike Bush has made it clear: during lockdown, you are not allowed to drive to the beach or to a park or to anywhere non-essential.

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You can do those things from outside your front door but you should stay within close proximity of your household - your "bubble".

Leave the roads for those who need to be on them.

By using your car, you are speeding up your need to go fill up your car at the petrol station, you are leaving your immediate "bubble" and your community, you are risking not being able to maintain social distancing from people outside that bubble.

The key message is: stay home. This won't always be possible but it is possible a lot more often than you think, if you are willing to give up some comforts and luxuries for the greater good. Your trail run is a luxury, which can be temporarily replaced by some loops of your street or even your backyard.

The trails can wait.

Of all the things to whinge about right now - and boy are there many! - a break in your access to the outdoors is not one of them.

This is not a "soft lockdown", this is not a "lockdown but". The message could not be clearer: stay home.

If you need to do some exercise for your mental health - and don't we all - then do it within your community. Keep yourself to the space near your "bubble".

The "outdoors", for the next four weeks, should mean the footpath near your house or your backyard.

There are many essential workers out there who still have to be getting out of their bubbles and they don't need you out there increasing the risk.

Your need to get outdoors does not supersede the world's desperate need to stop this awful virus.

Sit down, read books about the outdoors, watch movies about the outdoors, find podcasts about the outdoors.

This is the biggest challenge the world has faced in your lifetime. You need to rise up - and in this case, as the video below says, we rise up by standing still.

It's not the time for trail explorations, it's not the time for adventures.

The mountains and trails will all be there in four weeks.

Stay the **** home.

Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website