It would be insensitive to reopen Milton Keynes parkrun next month, says CEO

    Photo: Parkrun

    It has been announced that the Milton Keynes parkrun will not be returning at the end of October as organisers had anticipated.

    The free 5k runs usually take place every Saturday morning and draw hundreds of people to Milton Keynes' parks for some exercise. 

    But last week it was confirmed that parkruns across the country will not be returning any time soon, despite being given the go-ahead by the Government. 

    They were supposed to reopen by the end of October but this will no longer be happening. Nick Pearson, CEO of parkrun UK, said: "We know that many people will be disappointed to hear this news, and that it is likely to add further to existing anxieties and frustrations. Please do know that we will continue doing everything we can to support our parkrun family, and we remain committed to reopening parkrun events as soon as circumstances allow and local stakeholders are comfortable."

    New measures introduced by the Government, including restrictions on social gatherings and local lockdowns, are partly due to the further suspension of the event. Parkrun organisers have since said that although the events are exempt from the 'rule of six', they feel it would be "insensitive" to push forward with reopening. 

    Nick Pearson continued: "Whilst we reluctantly accept this reality, parkrun’s absence will come at a cost. As we head into winter and face the many associated seasonal health issues (both in terms of COVID-19 and other mental and physical illnesses), we believe parkrun has an incredibly important role to play in supporting public health. We also strongly believe that, as existing and emerging evidence suggests, and contrary to popular opinion, that there is little or nominal risk of COVID-19 transmission at outdoor physical activity events such as parkrun. Increasingly, we are seeing outbreaks traced to indoor work and social environments, yet to date there is little if any evidence of outbreaks directly resulting from participation in outdoor physical activity events.

    "The health of our nation is facing its greatest challenge in decades, inequalities are increasing, and disadvantaged communities are suffering disproportionately. It is absolutely critical therefore that decisions to restrict activities, particularly where there is a demonstrable public health benefit, are based on robust evidence. And whilst caution should always be taken, where evidence is lacking it should be rapidly developed such that where risk is sufficiently low, activities can be supported to return.

    "It is essential that, as we map out the coming weeks and months of our collective efforts to get back on our feet, we look beyond baseless assumptions and a culture of fear, and move toward evidence-based interventions. We must act now if we are to avoid irreparable damage to the health and happiness of our communities."

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