Eager to embrace the outdoors again

THE state government is insisting that Penangites indulge in recreational activities only from next Wednesday onwards in the state’s Gradual Recovery Strategy of the movement control order (MCO).

But many Penangites have begun to realise that the rules of the conditional MCO for social and recreational activities laid out by the Federal Government from May 4 applies to Penang as well.

In a statement by state youth and sports committee chairman Soon Lip Chee, sporting activities that are “allowed” in Penang include outdoor games like badminton, tennis and golf, lone jogging and cycling at distances of at least 2m and 5m respectively from each other starting Wednesday.

“The public will be allowed to use neighbourhood and pocket parks for jogging and light exercises without group activities from 7am to 7pm.

“Those who use the public exercise equipment must sanitise their hands before and after use, but we encourage people to refrain from using them, ” he said in his Thursday statement.

Quiet . . . View at the Gurney Drive in George Town, Penang. - Starpic by MUSTAFA AHMAD/The Star/8 May 2020.Quiet . . . View at the Gurney Drive in George Town, Penang. - Starpic by MUSTAFA AHMAD/The Star/8 May 2020.

Recreational fishing, he said, was not allowed.

However, many Penangites have been spotted cycling, jogging, taking morning walks and fishing since May 4 and there have been no reports of anyone being arrested for such activities.

“Police manning a roadblock in Balik Pulau asked where we were going. We said we were cycling and he told us to carry on. Along the way, police in patrol cars that passed us greeted us with smiles, ” said cyclist C.S. Toong.

He went on a morning ride with five friends on Thursday.

He said his team rode far from each other, spreading out at distances of at least 20m per cyclist.

“If we don’t come out for some recreation, we are going to get cabin fever, ” he added.

Although not recognised as a diagnosis, cabin fever is explained in psychology literature as mental and emotional distress caused by prolonged isolation and confinement.

Along the seaside, many anglers have begun wetting their lines and enjoying good catches.

“The sea is so clean and we easily caught so many fish.

“I saw a police patrol car pass by. They watched us for a while and drove away.

Anglers seen fishing at the rocky seafront near the Esplanade Food Court at Padang Kota Lama, Penang.Anglers seen fishing at the rocky seafront near the Esplanade Food Court at Padang Kota Lama, Penang.

“There were more than 10 anglers fishing here but we are not friends and we stand far from each other.

“We cast fishing lures repeatedly out to sea and if we stand too closely, our lines will get tangled, ” said an angler who wanted to be known only as Zul. He was fishing off the Esplanade yesterday.

Fisheries Department recently released rules that anglers may fish alone at sea shores, river banks and lake sides while maintaining social distancing during the conditional MCO.

However, they may not patronise commercial fishing ponds nor charter boats out to sea.

Those who miss exercising in places like the dams, Penang Botanic Gardens and City Park will have to wait a little longer.

These locations fall under state jurisdiction and Soon said they will remain closed even after next Wednesday.

Soon said all the sports complexes and stadium will remain closed and no bookings will be entertained.

Public fields such as the Esplanade and Padang Polo are allowed for individuals exercising but not groups.

In the same tune as the rules of the conditional MCO, all forms of indoor sports, contact sports like football and group exercises like Zumba or Taichi, hiking and motor and water sports remain disallowed.

“For state athletes representing Penang in the Malaysia Games (Sukma) 2020, training will resume in phases starting from next Wednesday, according to the standard operating procedure provided by the National Security Council, ” Soon said.

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