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Coronavirus: Cyclist in Italy tells police he doesn’t recognise emergency laws in bizarre video

Meanwhile, footage from Spain shows police telling English-speaking cyclist he shouldn’t be out

A cyclist in Italy has posted a bizarre video to YouTube showing him arguing with police officers who stopped him for violating a ban on riding bikes due to the coronavirus outbreak, telling them he did not consider himself subject to the country’s laws. Meanwhile, a video in Spain shows a police officer apparently shoving an English speaking cyclist, telling him he wasn’t allowed to be out in the street due to the country being in lockdown.

Italy and Spain are the two European countries currently worst affected by coronavirus, with 1,809 and 288 deaths recorded so far.

The cyclist in Italy was stopped by police in Trento in the north east of the country, and when asked to produce documents, produced a self-certificate which according to the newspaper La Voce del Bolzano had been “compiled in an entirely anomalous manner.”

Under emergency laws now in force, it is strictly forbidden to ride racing bikes in Italy, even on one’s own.

He told the officers: “I am a subject of international law. I do not speak to strangers and I do not know your uniforms. Identify yourselves.

“I am my own legal representative, I defend myself,” he continued. “I am not a citizen subject to the Italian state.”

Referring to the emergency legislation brought in to try and restrict the spread of coronavirus as well as ease pressure on the emergency services, he added: “This decree is a hoax and I do not accept it.”

He also accused the officers – who managed to keep calm throughout – of abusing their powers and of false imprisonment.

Unsurprisingly, he was taken to the city’s main police station and has been reported for violating the decree.

On Spain, a clip has emerged on social media showing a local police officer apparently grabbing an English-speaking cyclist riding a bike in Marbella.

According to the news website The Olive Press, the clip was shot in the Costa del Sol city yesterday.

One of the officers from the Policia Local can be heard shouting at the rider, “You cannot be on the street!”

Meanwhile, one road.cc reader who is on a cycling break in Mallorca, which is hugely popular at this time of the year with riders from the UK and elsewhere looking to get fit ahead of the new season, told us of his experience yesterday as the restrictions came into force.

Terry Hunt said that he was stopped by police and told to return to his hotel or risk facing a €1,000 fine.

“I suppose the atmosphere is best described as one of disappointment, but also people understand why,” he said.

“Yesterday, morning (Sunday), there seemed a lot of confusion as to whether we could go out riding, no-one could give us a straight answer. Some people decided not to risk it, others did, including myself and a few people I met here.

“Our ride for the day was to the lighthouse at the Cap de Formentor. We managed 2.5 miles before some other cyclists warned us about a road block ahead, so we decided to turn back and try a different route.

“Another two miles later and we were stopped by the police (they were stopping everyone on bikes including locals) and were asked to return to our hotel.

“A quick stop at the supermarket for some snacks and then we were at the poolside, luckily the sun was shining yesterday.

“One group from the UK who are staying at the same hotel did venture out and got a full day's riding in.

“In the end, the hotel advised we could only leave to go to a supermarket or pharmacy,” he added. “All bars and restaurants are closed.”

News emerging from France, where President Macron is due to address the nation on live TV at 8pm this evening, is that similar restrictions will be put in place there.

Among other things will extinguish any lingering hopes ASO may have had of Paris-Roubaix being run next month.

France is the third worst affected country on the continent, with 120 deaths recorded so far.

The UK has confirmed 35 deaths so far, with that number expected to increase sharply as has happened elsewhere, and pressure is mounting on the government to introduce restrictions on movement similar to those in force in other countries.

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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34 comments

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FluffyKittenofT... | 3 years ago
1 like

The best way to have greatly slowed the spread (though it's far too late for it now) would have been to ban skiing and skiing holidays. I doubt it's coincidental that the greatest number of early cases in the UK were in places like Kensington and Chelsea - almost every case across Europe at first involved someone who had 'recently returned from a trip to Northern Italy'.

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Rick_Rude | 3 years ago
1 like

Seems like in Italy if you break the law in a big enough group of dodgy characters then the police will ignore you and can go outside as you please. Go outside as a normal person and you're nicked. Easy pickings. 

A bit like the Greeks fine tourists for riding motorbikes without helmets meanwhile if you're Greek do what you want. 

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nexus-6 | 3 years ago
3 likes

the reason cycling is banned in Spain & Italy (except for pros training) is in case you have an accident and have to call an ambulance, therefore putting more of a strain on already overstretched health service. Nothing to do with contagion. It's a pain in the arse, but under the circumstances reasonable/logical.

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Kendalred replied to nexus-6 | 3 years ago
3 likes

Well that would apply to anyone leaving the house no matter what form of perambulation they choose. Anyway, I thought most accidents happened in the home? 

Just bung a shopping basket on the front and then claim you're going to the shops - 30km away.

 

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FluffyKittenofT... replied to nexus-6 | 3 years ago
1 like

Well, that's a reason, but it seems kind of a weird one - you could just as easily have an accident, or cause an injury to others, in a car or on foot. Either have a full-on curfew or let people travel by their chosen means. Especially as cycling doesn't mean you are crammed in with others, as in the London Underground (which is still packed during rush hour, by all accounts).

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Pigpen | 3 years ago
2 likes

In fairness, it said the ban was on 'race bikes' so I presume that anything without a UCI sticker is good to go  3

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handlebarcam | 3 years ago
8 likes

You laugh, but somewhere Dominic Cummings is cursing that he cannot hire this bloke for the Brexit trade deal negotiations.

Cycling bans are just another example of authorities not getting cycling. They classify it as dangerous, therefore people should need a helmet to do it, therefore it should be banned in a health crisis. But, as ever, bicycles can help. They should distribute them for free, to keep the populace from lurching into even greater obesity through lack of exercise. And the more people cycle the less panic buying there'd be, because it is tough to carry more toilet rolls and eggs than you need on a bicycle.

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ktache replied to handlebarcam | 3 years ago
7 likes

The "herd immunity" policy seemed to have cummings filthy paws all over it, neo-liberal, survival of the fittest nonsense.  Yes we developed "herd immunity" to spanish Flu, shame about all of the deaths.  They seem to be putting out policy, seeing how it rides and then adjusting, like the enforced quarantining of over 70s, only to scale it back to something slightly more acceptable.  This is the time for strong and decisive leadership...

Ah, well.

We're now meant to quarantine ourselves, and indeed our household if showing symptoms, yet not to inform anyone about it.  How does this generate numbers, that's no good for modelling, can we say it's under control now because reporting is not complete and numbers are much lower than they appear.

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Rich_cb replied to ktache | 3 years ago
2 likes

The idea of herd immunity is to protect the vulnerable. That's why it was mooted alongside strict isolation for the over 70s.

It's the exact opposite of 'survival of the fittest' and is the principle that vaccination is based on.

Everybody is demanding social isolation etc but we have literally no idea if, in the long term, that will make things better or worse.

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fenix replied to Rich_cb | 3 years ago
5 likes

Yes we do. The models show that social isolation will slow the disease.  If you're not in touch with anyone - you won't get it.

Eventually the disease will spread amongst everyone - but over a much longer time frame.  

If we do nothing - the NHS is overwhelmed in weeks.  Demand tens of times over it's capacity. 

If we socially isolate the disease spreads far slower.  NHS can cope better  -  more people will survive. 

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Rich_cb replied to fenix | 3 years ago
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As I said, we have no idea if social isolation will work in the long term.

Models are just barely educated guesswork. Nobody has any idea if they will prove to be right or a complete disaster.

What if social isolation causes a huge spike later in the year at the same time as seasonal flu and other winter illnesses?

We'd be in an even worse position.

We know next to nothing about this disease, anyone telling you that their strategy is definitely the right way to treat it is lying to you.

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FluffyKittenofT... replied to Rich_cb | 3 years ago
3 likes

But it wasn't "mooted alongside strict isolation for the over '70s", that wasn't the timing of events. The isolation for the over 70s idea was only floated considerably later, after it became clear that the herd immunity idea was going to be a disaster. And even then it wasn't really backed up with any support for actually achieving such isolation.

But in any case they tried to back away from that 'herd immunity' concept right from the start, just ending up confusing everybody. Saying things like 'herd immunity isn't the objective of the strategy, it's just the result of the strategy'.

Seems to me the only possible strategy is to 'flatten the curve' to try and avoid the health-care system being overwhelmed, and to do that you need to test systematically and track the spread, as South Korea has been doing. This government has simultaneously talked of expanding testing and of reducing it to only those seriously sick in hospital to the point where it's not clear what they are doing.

The government's response has been completely confused and incoherent. If they know what they are doing they haven't made it clear to anyone else.

My suspicion is that the 'nudge unit' lot are too involved, with their dubious 'behavioural psychology' - but that's only a guess based on reports of David Halpern being in charge. I don't trust anything that gives too much power to psychologists - as that particular discipline has such a terrible track-record when it comes to reproducibility or basing theories on good data. So I'm inclined to blame mistakes on them. But it might not be that, though, it might just be generic ineptitude.

This IC report is what made them have second thoughts, because it made it clear that anything other than trying all out to suppress the outbreak would lead to overloading the health care system and to large numbers of deaths. Their first idea of having a controlled spread among the young and healthy, and hoping they could turn the level of infection up and down like a tap (the 'herd immunity' strategy - that they may or may not have originally intended because they quickly tried to walk it back and say, after the first press conference, that that wasn't what they meant after all), turns out to be a recipe for disaster.

https://www.imperial.ac.uk/media/imperial-college/medicine/sph/ide/gida-...

Other articles that make one worried about the UK government's strategy

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/mar/15/epidemiologist-bri...

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/mar/18/coronavirus-uk-exp...

https://medium.com/@tomaspueyo/coronavirus-act-today-or-people-will-die-...

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/17/there-is-a-policy-of-surre...

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/17/there-is-a-policy-of-surre...

https://unherd.com/2020/03/the-scientific-case-against-herd-immunity/

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Rich_cb replied to FluffyKittenofTindalos | 3 years ago
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Here immunity as a concept involves the vulnerable not being immunised.

That's the entire point.

Herd immunity in a novel pandemic has never been tried but neither has shutting down entire societies.

I'm not sure you can argue that it is possible to avoid viral spread by isolating everybody and simultaneously argue that isolating certain groups won't work.

Nobody can honestly say which option will be better in the long term.

We simply don't know.

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Xenophon2 replied to Rich_cb | 3 years ago
4 likes

The problem with your reasoning is that herd immunity obtained by a vaccine does not bring with it a 2.5% average mortality rate, supposing that medical infrastructure can cope with the influx of cases.  Which it can't, especially not in the UK, given the dearth of ICU beds.  You will obtain herd immunity at a cost of 500000 -750000 extra deaths.  Most of those will be in the elderly / ill population segment.  Which is perhaps deemed acceptable and a nice bonus to the treasury.  

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Rich_cb replied to Xenophon2 | 3 years ago
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Herd immunity involves allowing those in low risk groups to get the disease in order to slow or eliminate the spread in high risk groups.

The mortality for those under 40 is <0.08%. That's including those with existing comorbidities. Exclude those and the mortality will clearly fall even further.

That's below the level for seasonal flu.

The NHS doesn't offer fit and healthy young people flu vaccinations.

If we can effectively isolate the entire population which is what we're currently attempting then we can also isolate specific groups.

As I've repeated above multiple times nobody knows if social isolation will work long term.

We are in completely uncharted territory.

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ktache replied to Rich_cb | 3 years ago
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I buy a yearly flu vaccination from Tescos, £10 or less.

 

 

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Rich_cb replied to ktache | 3 years ago
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Good for you.

Not sure how that is relevant?

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ktache replied to Rich_cb | 3 years ago
1 like
Rich_cb wrote:

The NHS doesn't offer fit and healthy young people flu vaccinations.

That's the relevance.  I was replying to you.

As I originally said the world developed herd immunity to spanish flu, it went around the world twice, and killed more than WWI.

Europeans had developed herd immunity to smallpox, it was released on the new world, didn't go particularly well, though eventually they had to develop herd immunity.

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Rich_cb replied to ktache | 3 years ago
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Being able to buy a flu vaccine is irrelevant to the discussion.

The point was related to mortality risk, the NHS does not protect the young and healthy against seasonal flu because it poses little risk.

It focuses its effort on the vulnerable whilst allowing the young to get sick even though flu will kill some of them.

Covid-19 also poses little risk to the young and healthy. Mortality is likely to be <<0.05% in those groups.

If you can limit infection to the very low risk members of society you can create an element of herd immunity.

In the Covid-19 situation this would have involved allowing those for whom there is a very low risk of harm to become infected in order to protect the most vulnerable.

It's really not that crazy a concept.

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ktache replied to ktache | 3 years ago
1 like

Cummings dirty paws-

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/mar/22/no-10-denies-claim-domi...

Guardian article reporting on one by the Times.

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Nathan79 | 3 years ago
3 likes

The spain thing is madness. We won't let you out on your bike alone but you can go to the supermarket where there wll be other people congregating. 

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brooksby replied to Nathan79 | 3 years ago
5 likes

But I think people are developing weird blind spots in relation to the whole thing.

eg. (1) I'm so scared of catching this illness that I want to panic buy and they'll have to pry that roll of 4-ply out of my cold dead hands, but (2) I'm willing to  queue for twenty minutes in line this close to strangers to buy it.

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srchar replied to Nathan79 | 3 years ago
1 like

After listening to the press conference yesterday, I'm encouraged that the PM made noises about avoiding such draconian measures.

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fenix replied to Nathan79 | 3 years ago
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But food is kind of essential isn't it ?

I hope they don't ban cycling here - but it's not an essential. (he says with Zwift ready to go).

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VonPinkhoffen replied to Nathan79 | 3 years ago
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Nathan79 wrote:

The spain thing is madness. We won't let you out on your bike alone but you can go to the supermarket where there wll be other people congregating. 

In Portugal, there's a restriction on the number of people allowed in at any one time, and the queues outside are spaced 2m+ apart too. I'd imagine the same is happening there too.

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rkemb | 3 years ago
4 likes

Ooh, an Italian Freeman on the Land nutter. Hard to argue that you're only subject to Admiralty Law when you're on a bike though, I suppose.

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hawkinspeter replied to rkemb | 3 years ago
4 likes

I used to work alongside one of those Freeman types. He was fully invested in almost every conspiracy going from electric pyramids to aspartame being a control chemical.

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brooksby replied to hawkinspeter | 3 years ago
1 like
Quote:

Freemen believe that statute law is a contract, and that individuals can therefore opt out of statute law, choosing instead to live under what they call "common" (case) and "natural" laws. They believe natural laws require only that individuals do not harm others, do not damage the property of others, and do not use "fraud or mischief" in contracts. They say that all people have two parts to their existence: their body and their legal "person". The latter is represented by the individual's birth certificate; some freemen claim that it is entirely limited to the birth certificate. Under this theory, a "strawman" is created when a birth certificate is issued, and this "strawman" is the entity who is subject to statutory law. The physical self is referred to by a slightly different name, such as "John of the family Smith" instead of "John Smith".

Never come across that before.  Ridiculous.  

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OldRidgeback replied to brooksby | 3 years ago
0 likes

So they're sort of like anarchists but justify anti social behaviour by waffle? 

The cops showed restraint, all things considered.

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leqin replied to hawkinspeter | 3 years ago
2 likes
hawkinspeter wrote:

I used to work alongside one of those Freeman types. He was fully invested in almost every conspiracy going from electric pyramids to aspartame being a control chemical.

Yeah but they all fade into insignificance by comparison with the squirrel overlords and being mind controlled by BIG SQUIRREL.

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