ITV’s Good Morning Britain has attempted to guilt runners into masking up, hosting a professor who called joggers a hazard for dog-walking old ladies as host Piers Morgan groused they spoiled his strolls. It wasn’t well-received.

The puffing and panting jogger” is a public menace, Oxford University professor Trish Greenhalgh warned the audience in Tuesday’s episode of the programme. She urged runners to wear masks outdoors lest they unknowingly be spreading the virus.

There’s no doubt the virus is in the air, there’s no doubt that you can catch it if you inhale air that someone else has exhaled,” Greenhalgh continued, suggesting that one can actually feel oneself inhaling the exhaled breath of a rogue jogger even from two meters away.

You’re jogging along, you think you’re fine, and then the next day you’ve developed symptoms of Covid. But you’ve actually breathed that Covid onto someone, perhaps an old lady walking her dog or something like that,” Greenhalgh explained, shaming those benighted Brits who thought they were just out having a run.

Greenhalgh did concede that “wet soggy masks are not a good idea,” but suggested that doesn’t excuse the joggers from wearing and washing them.

Host Piers Morgan, always one of the loudest voices to praise lockdowns, masks, and other social controls still hanging around a year after “two weeks to flatten the curve,” found runners on the high street to be more of an aesthetic issue.

There’s something so narcissistic about these people… running… especially if they’re not very fit,” Morgan sneered, apparently missing the point of exercise. Running down the high street was “the ultimate nonsense show-off gorilla-beating,” he continued as former Labour Party deputy leader Tom Watson defended the practice.

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Morgan was unswayed, however. “I would make it illegal for joggers to run along high streets,” he declared, egging himself on, before conceding that “they can do it slowly if they wear the mask.” He did not elaborate on who would have the vitally important duty of clocking runners’ speed.

The discussion polarized social media users, with many pointing out that runners, cyclists, and other outdoor exercisers seldom hung around long enough to breathe their germs onto passersby.

Some suggested the problem was the other way around, blaming sidewalk-hogging walkers.

Others raised an eyebrow at how one might differentiate between a “jogger” and a “fast walker,” suggesting the rules were deliberately absurd and that the “experts” cited had never actually triedrunning or exercising with a restrictive piece of cloth over your face.

A few pointed out that wearing masks while running had been declared harmful by the World Health Organization and that even the UK’s deputy chief medical officer had said – back in April – that masks were no good “for general wearing.” Others cited a handful of disturbing stories from China last year that saw multiple schoolchildren and a young man die while exercising with masks on, or warned the show’s claims would discourage exercise itself.

However, plenty were eager to see joggers punished.

Morgan’s dream of arresting unmasked joggers is already a reality elsewhere. Last week, a South African jogger was arrested, fined, fingerprinted, and required to sign an “admission of guilt” for not masking up in public. While the government has mandated face coverings outdoors, the rules include an exception for anyone engaged in “vigorous exercise” in a public space as long as they’re keeping 1.5 meters’ distance from others.

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