Easing of sports restrictions welcomed by runners – and Petra Kvitová

Photo: ČTK/Jaroslav Ožana

Under an easing of some restrictions imposed in the Czech Republic over the Covid-19 epidemic, individual sports are now permitted outdoors once again, while runners no longer need to cover their faces except in crowded spots. This week’s changes have been welcomed by many, including tennis star Petra Kvitová.

Photo: ČTK/Jaroslav Ožana

From Tuesday outdoor facilities for individual sports in the Czech Republic have been open to the public once again. In addition runners and cyclists are no longer required to keep their mouths and noses covered, if they are not close to other people.

The latter move has been welcomed by Jerome Fagelson, a Frenchman resident in Prague who runs eight to 15 kilometres three or four times a week.

“It’s easier definitely to run without a mask. It’s easier to breathe and you feel better. It makes things more comfortable generally speaking. And it might encourage more people to go out and run – and do some exercise.”

With the easing of restrictions still fresh, many joggers seem to be still covering their faces for some sections of their runs.

Fagelson says that he has been pulling his scarf back up when near others, particularly the elderly.

“Yesterday at least there were still a lot of people running and doing sport with a mask. But it’s a more a personal feeling that you somehow feel weird when you see everyone around you with a mask and you don’t have one. I was wearing my partially. It’s not really a surgical mask – it’s just a protection that one can use also over your throat. It’s not so difficult for me to breathe with it. So I’m partially using it and partially putting it down. Because it gets wet quite easily, so you don’t want to run with it too long. Also the weather is so good that you don’t want to put something on your face.”

Petra Kvitová,  photo: David Kubíček / Czech Radio
Also enjoying the newfound freedom on the sporting front on Tuesday was two-time Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitová, who was able to take to a tennis court for the first time in a month.

“It’s great. Tennis is a summer sport and it’s great to play it outside. This was possible today because they opened outdoor sports facilities – in this case tennis courts – and I had the chance to play outside for the first time. Given everything that’s happening in the world it’s great to improve your mood by running about and sweating a bit. Super.”

Kvitová says she hopes other Czechs will now follow her lead.

“I think it’s mainly good for those who like to stay in shape and in so doing boost their immunity. This makes us more resistant, not just to this virus but to everything. It also makes us stronger mentally and I hope there are lots of people like that.”