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Sydney joggers urged to ‘try out new areas’ amid crowding on popular paths

City of Canada Bay Mayor Angelo Tsirekas said people were encouraged to go elsewhere on the Easter weekend, and the Bay Run was “plastered with signage” for those who did not.

Mr Tsirekas said he “would hate to see the Bay Run closed for the first time but it’s not out of the question”.

Walkers and runners pass each other at Centennial Park.

Walkers and runners pass each other at Centennial Park. Credit:James Brickwood

“It’s up to all of us – if we stay home and stay away from others we can save lives in our community,” he said.

So how safe is running, and are joggers putting other public space users at risk?

A preliminary study by Belgian researchers tracking the spread of droplets from runners caused a stir online last week, with dramatic images purporting to show the spread of droplets between joggers running in line and a recommendation that side-by-side walking or jogging is safer. But the study has not been peer-reviewed and there are questions over its rigour.

Holly Searle, an infectious diseases social scientist at UNSW, said even the study’s author admits it is “novel and it is one of the initial studies to look at this phenomenon”, and that further research needs to be done.

People jogging and walking on the Bay Run on Tuesday.

People jogging and walking on the Bay Run on Tuesday.Credit:Louise Kennerley

“But it is important that we explore these things, because we are living in a very different time at the moment.”

Dr Searle said running is still safe “and we do want to encourage people to still undertake exercise at this time” – but it is worth considering where people do their running, and how they go about encountering other joggers and walkers along the path.

“Doing the Coogee to Bondi walk maybe isn’t the best thing at this precise moment in time. Maybe they could adopt other walks, try out new areas, get to know other walks in their suburb that may not have the same crowds. Doing things like that will definitely help with limiting the spread.”

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That’s exactly what Ms Crompton has been doing, and hopes others will too.

“We’ve stopped going on [the Bay Run] at certain times of the day. We just go to Blackmore Oval and that’s really lovely. There are so many parks you can see are empty.”

Dr Searle said any suggestion that joggers should wear respirators or cloth masks was not advisable as they could cause breathing difficulties.

“If you can maintain a good distance from other people, there is no need to wear a cloth mask when you are walking or running solo on the street,” she said.

As for respirators?

“They are not for running.”

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