Runner stopped on river front for ‘breathing heavily’ is a lockdown sceptic

Image above: The story, as reported in the Metro

A jogger who complained that he was stopped by a Covid marshal for running along the riverside in Hammersmith because he was ‘breathing heavily’, is a campaigner who seeks to persuade the public that ‘the Pandemic is over!’

Gary Purnell was running by the river when he was stopped by a Covid marshal employed by Hammersmith & Fulham Council and asked not to run there.

He took to Twitter to condemn the marshal’s action as ‘the most crazy thing in the world’.

Images above: Photograph of Gary Purnell from his Twitter feed; Image of the LB Hammersmith &Fulham marshal from his video

A video of the exchange shows him asking “Why can’t I run along here?” and the marshal replying “because you are breathing heavily.”

Gary Purnell responds: ‘I’m breathing heavily? You don’t have to wear a mask outside. In the Government, it doesn’t say I cannot run.’

The marshal answers: ‘I can’t stop you, I can only tell you that you can’t.’

The Council put up signs along the riverfront in the summer of 2020 asking people not to run or cycle along the river front at Hammersmith because it’s a place where lots of local people go to take their daily exercise.

On 15 January 2021 the Police launched a joint appeal with both Hammersmith & Fulham Council and Hounslow Council, urging local residents to avoid the busy riverfront to help stop the spread of Covid-19. The stretch of riverfront running from Chiswick Mall to Hammersmith Mall and down to Bishop’s Park in Fulham is extremely busy, they say, especially at weekends. Leader of Hammersmith & Fulham Council Steve Cowan said:

“The new strain of Covid is 70 per cent more contagious than the first. And London is an epicentre of the bigger second wave that is taking our NHS to breaking point”.

READ ALSO: Avoid riverfront say Police and Councils

Image: Crowded river front at Hammersmith; photograph LB Hammersmith & Fulham

The exchange between Gary Purnell and the Covid marshal on Thursday 14 January has been widely reported in the national press. Cllr Cowan told the Daily Mail:

‘We make no apology for asking fit people vigorously exercising to be considerate to protect other, often elderly, people taking a more leisurely stroll. Runners and cyclists should please avoid the popular riverfront at busy times.’

Home Secretary Priti Patel was asked to comment on the video on This Morning. She said it wasn’t necessary for people to wear a mask while they are exercising, which was interpreted by the Sun as a ‘slap down’ for the marshal.

Gary Purnell, who describes himself on Twitter as an ‘Author, Guitar Player and Traveller’. His Twitter account promotes the ‘Yeadon campaign’, described as a ‘Grassroots campaign to reconstitute SAGE hopefully under leadership of Dr Michael Yeadon’.

The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies provides scientific and technical advice to support government decision makers during emergencies and is advising them on the pandemic. Dr Yeadon is a former VP of Pfizer who argues that there is no need for vaccines to extinguish the pandemic. He argued in a blog post on 16 October 2020 that the pandemic ‘is effectively over’ in the UK.

The Yeadon campaign website urges people to ‘Live closely as you did before’. Their website still shows their campaign to ‘Get involved to save Christmas’. Dr Yeadon has become the poster boy for lockdown sceptics because of his scientific credentials, but his arguments have been rejected by the vast majority of scientists who support vaccination.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: All you might want to know about Covid in our area – Kelly O’Neill, Director of Public Health for Hounslow

See also: Christmas impact – Covid cases up by nearly 50% in Chiswick 

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