They looked like ghostly shapes in the early morning mist – one by one, jogging or walking briskly. And by the time they were at the beach, there was a long line of people – all making use of the 06:00 to 09:00 exercise window allowed during South Africa’s Level 4 Covid-19 lockdown.
“My bru! There is nobody in the ocean. Why don’t they also open the ocean?” asked “water baby” and surfer, Jason Fowler. He stared longingly at the tubes forming along Bloubergstrand in Cape Town.
Labradors plodded, lapdogs got tangled up in leashes, and small children wobbled on their bicycles, as the strip filled with hundreds of walkers, joggers and cyclists out for some lockdown lung work.
Exercise is permitted for three hours in the morning, within 5km of people’s homes under Level 4 regulations, which took effect at midnight.
People kept their distance from each other where they could and sweat patches formed over the mouth area of the masks of some.
Babies were brought out in prams and a few hobbled along on crutches.
A discarded black, plastic push bike had fallen on the beach and was tangled in sea weed.
Selfies were taken very quickly, but people kept moving. Restaurants and businesses along the strip remained closed.
By 08:55 the atmosphere changed – there was a rush to return home or to a vehicle. At 09:02, the first whoop of a police siren was heard as a mum and her small daughter were warned to go back inside.
The strip emptied as quickly as it had filled and the law enforcement officers said something over the loudspeaker as their convoy cruised past. Although it was unclear, it had the effect of sending stragglers home.