Beating lockdown inertia: French city-dwellers keep fit on balconies

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Residents exercise on their balconies following fitness trainers in Nantes as a lockdown is imposed to slow the rate of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) spread in France, March 27, 2020. (Reuters/Stephane Mahe)
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Residents exercise on their balconies following fitness trainers in Nantes as a lockdown is imposed to slow the rate of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) spread in France, March 27, 2020. (Reuters/Stephane Mahe)
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Residents exercise on their balconies following fitness trainers in Nantes as a lockdown is imposed to slow the rate of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) spread in France, March 27, 2020. (Reuters/Stephane Mahe)
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Residents exercise on their balconies following fitness trainers in Nantes as a lockdown is imposed to slow the rate of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) spread in France, March 27, 2020. (Reuters/Stephane Mahe)
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Updated 28 March 2020

Beating lockdown inertia: French city-dwellers keep fit on balconies

  • France has been under virtual lockdown since March 17
  • The outbreak has killed about 2,000 people in France and sickened 33,000 others, according to official numbers

NANTES, France: As dusk fell over Nantes in western France, dozens of residents of an apartment block came out onto their balconies for a half-hour fitness session to beat the inertia of life under lockdown while the coronavirus sweeps across the country.
Music pumped out as the group put itself through a routine of star jumps, squats and jogging on the spot. The workout caught on after Pierre Planchenaud began exercising alone. Before long, his neighbors wanted to join in.
“It meant everyone could relax after a day where you stay shut up indoors or in isolation,” said Planchenaud, who works in advertising. “It enables people to have a bit of freedom and take their minds off things.”
France has been under virtual lockdown since March 17 and on Friday Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said the unprecedented peacetime restrictions on public life would remain in place until at least April 15. The outbreak has killed about 2,000 people in France and sickened 33,000 others, according to official numbers.
Public gatherings are banned, schools and universities are closed and all non-essential businesses have shut down, with people allowed out of their homes only to buy groceries, carry out essential work, exercise or seek medical care.
Stress caused by fear of the disease is compounded by isolation, mental health experts say, and the French government has reported a marked increase in domestic violence during the lockdown.
“We started last night and we’re having a great time with the family. It’s cool,” said firefighter resident Guillaume Ricquier.
Planchenaud leads the workout from a central courtyard, with the makeshift class wrapping up just in time to join others nationwide clapping and cheering in support of the health care workers battling to save the lives of coronavirus sufferers.
“It brings a new energy,” said osteopath Laura Martinez. “We said last night it needs to keep going after the lockdown.”


Four police officers charged in Floyd death, one with 2nd-degree murder

Updated 1 min 39 sec ago

Four police officers charged in Floyd death, one with 2nd-degree murder

MINNEAPOLIS: The white Minneapolis police officer who kneeled on the neck of a black man who later died will now be charged with second-degree murder, and his three colleagues will also face charges, court documents revealed Wednesday.
The May 25 death of George Floyd — who had been accused of trying to buy cigarettes with a counterfeit bill — has ignited protests across the United States over systemic racism and police brutality.
“Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison is increasing charges against Derek Chauvin to 2nd degree in George Floyd’s murder and also charging other 3 officers,” US Senator Amy Klobuchar tweeted.
“This is another important step for justice.”
Chauvin was charged last week with third-degree murder, which is roughly akin to manslaughter. A charge of second-degree murder does not suggest premeditation but carries stiffer penalties.
Court documents show the second-degree murder charge was added to the prior charges.
The three other officers have been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder, documents show.
In a statement, Floyd’s family described news of the new charges as a “bittersweet moment.”
“This is a significant step forward on the road to justice, and we are gratified that this important action came before George Floyd’s body was laid to rest,” the statement said.
The statement, issued by family attorney Ben Crump, also said that Ellison would consider elevating the charge to premeditated murder “if the evidence supports it.”
The family urged protesters to “raise their voices for change in peaceful ways.”
Tens of thousands of demonstrators defied night-time curfews Tuesday in several US cities.
But the demonstrations were largely peaceful, and while there were tense standoffs with law enforcement, the protests did not feature the looting or clashes with police of previous days.