It’s been three weeks since our first article about Coronavirus, where we polled a large section of the skate industry to see how it’s affecting them. Well here we are, and things haven’t gotten much better. To see how things are different (or the same) around the world, we got updates from Vincent Milou in France, Bjorn Holmenas in Barcelona, Matt Schleyer in NYC, and Alan Hannon in California. Stay safe everyone.
Matt Schleyer, Filmer, NYC
What’s the feeling in NYC at the moment?
New York feels so strange right now. Spring is finally here, and normally the streets would be flooded with people. But because of this virus, all non-essential stores have closed, and the streets are empty. Many of our favorite local businesses have had to close or change the way they operate. Labor Skate Shop is only doing online sales, so if you can, go support them (or your local Skateshop).
What are the rules imposed on citizens? How strictly are they enforced?
Citizens are supposed to stay inside, unless going out to work, or out for essentials, which includes grocery shopping and exercise. There has not been a mandatory law keeping citizens inside, so its kinda up to us to do our part and stay in as much as we can. Police will break up groups of people, but I don’t think they are issuing tickets or anything. I guess it probably depends on how you respond to them.
How are skaters adapting? Skating at home? By themselves? Still going out in crews trying to hit fabled spots?
It’s tough for us to skate at home here in New York. Most of us live with roommates in small apartments, with neighbors above and below us. So I’m not sure how many of the skaters here are actually skating inside. Since we’re still allowed to go out and get some exercise, it seems like skating by yourself at an isolated spot is the best option here for now. A friend and fellow filmer out here in NYC, Thom Musso (@themanwhofilms), asked all of his friends to go out somewhere safe and film themselves, and then he edited it all into a video. He plans to keep doing videos like this until this pandemic is over. Even though we can’t go out with our crew, we can still go out on our own and end up with a video of all our friends.
I don’t think crews are really going out to hit all the fabled spots at this time. Any building that normally has security, still has a guard there. So it actually may be harder to skate some of those spots, because security is not distracted by the regular foot traffic. NYC has been hit hard by this virus, so now is not the time for us to be going out with big crews.
At first, the city left all parks open, because New Yorkers don’t have much space at home, it’s very important that they have somewhere for them to go out to get some exercise. They said the parks would be closely monitored to see if any further action was needed. At some point last week, the city decided to close all playgrounds, since the people were not keeping distance from each other. A few days later, they added skateparks to that list. So now all skateparks in NYC are closed, fenced off, and patrolled to make sure that the new rules are being enforced.
Do they have a predicted date of when the quarantine will be lifted?
Well, last I heard is that they want everyone to stay away from each other until at least the end of April, but I don’t think anyone really knows how long this will last. Hopefully it’s all over soon and we can go back to life as normal.
Alan Hannon, Primitive Filmer
Are you still going out shooting? How are you navigating the current situation?
I recently got back from Brazil on a Primitive trip so I was traveling in the middle of all this, so just to be safe I’ve been staying in for the last few weeks. I’ve really only been out a few times, just shooting for specific drops we have coming out, etc. Only going out for one day shoots, not really out on the mission street skating.
How has it affected your job at Primitive?
It has affected it in a few ways, not being in the office every day and working from home has been different. We’ve had to postpone some tours. We’re also working on another big video project for the end of this year and we’ve had to basically put a stop to the filming for it for now. There’s definitely no traveling now as the situation keeps getting worse and the street skating is to a very minimum. I always have quite a bit of editing work to do, so on that side it’s not too much is different, just editing and working from home.
How are others you know handling it?
Looks like everyone is handling it in different ways. I still see a lot of people out skating every day, at the same time I know people who haven’t gone out at all in the last few weeks.
When you have gone out skating have you noticed anything different or out of the ordinary? Have spots been more accessible? Has the crew been social distancing?
Yeah it was funny the other day when we were out skating some ledges in a park a cop rolled up on us and a yelled on the megaphone, “You can’t skate here, go home and practice social distancing!” I feel like even though a lot of public places are closed down they’re even more of a bust because the cops definitely have an excuse to kick you out now if they see you out. Even though we’re out I can tell everyone is trying to be safe, doing elbows instead of handshakes, keeping a little bit of a distance, etc. At the end of the day we all understand how serious this is and how staying home is very important, but at the same time we still have jobs to do. So we’re all just trying to be safe and only go out when we really have too.
Bjorn Holmenas, Owner SOUR Skateboards, Barcelona, Spain
What are the specific lockdown rules in Barcy right now?
From what I understand Spain has the toughest quarantine rules in the world. You are only allowed to leave your house twice a day to get groceries or medicine. Police and military are on the streets controlling and they even use drones and helicopters to make sure people stay home.
In a way it is understandable that the rules are so strict here since people live close together and often many generations in the same household. It’s also one of the world’s oldest populations so they need to keep the spread down to not saturate the hospitals.
Is it possible to skate anywhere? Or are you risking a fine? Are skateparks open?
No skating, everyone healing up at home hopefully coming out with fresh legs and new ideas and appreciation of skating and freedom in general. No skateparks open obviously and if you do try to skate I reckon the fines are gnarly. They love handing out fines for everything here in general and now probably heavier.
Do you personally know anyone sick with Covid?
Yeah my sister got it in Sweden working as a nurse, but for her, symptoms were those of a regular cold and she is now back to work again.
I also believe, even though not confirmed, that a lot of friends have had it here, and as we all will have it at some point it seems and the symptoms are mostly mild, at least some will have it over and done with.
Do you have an idea of when the lockdown will be over? Or will bars open? Or your store can open?
I would say slowly easing up the rules by the end of April. After that it will probably be a long time of social distancing and restrictions for bars, hopefully the stores can open since it’s not a place where you normally have as big crowds at the same time.
How are you fulfilling orders right now?
I’m allowed to go alone to work to ship the online orders. I’m taking advantage of the lockdown to clean and finish other pending projects at the office.
We had just renovated the store for spring and the lockdown happened the same day as we were supposed to open to the public. Pretty shitty timing but it is what it is.
Are the beaches closed?
Yeah and it’s probably good for the beach to get a break from so many people. Maybe other life forms other than old condoms and beer cans come back.
How are the single skaters meeting girls?!
STDs have gone down I imagine since no one can see anyone. People have hundreds of Tinder matches they can’t meet. Will be a gnarly dating frenzy when lockdown is over.
Vincent Milou, Tarnos, France
What city in France are you in right now?
I’m in my hometown, Tarnos (in the southwest of France, right by the Atlantic Ocean and Spain).
What are the lockdown rules?
Super strict! You can go out only one hour a day, and just for essential stuff like product at grocery stores or pharmacies or helping a member of your family that needs assistance. Just people who have to work can go without a problem. You really have to stay home. Oh, and yes you can go out for one hour if you want to go for a run (just RUN, not even bike or skateboard) and no more then one mile away from your place.
How strictly are they enforcing them? Do they give fines if you break the rules?
So strict, if you see cops on the road or in the street, they’re arresting you and asking you a bunch of question for sure. Actually you have to sign up on the government website and download a special letter to explain why you’re out. Dude, they give you fines for days—first time is 135 euros, and then if you break the rule again, it’s 1500 euros and you can go to jail—not fun at all.
I heard they’ve been starting to check the stuff you buy if you go to grocery store, and if it’s not something really important (like candy) they can give you a fine. They also prohibited runs or going for a walk in Paris.
Are the skateparks and beaches closed?
Hell yes. My friends tried to go surf two weeks ago and a helicopter spotted them and the cops were waiting for them in the parking lot, giving fines!
Are you skating? Indoor or at home, or out in the streets?
I’m definitely not playing with the rules, but I try to skate every other day in front of my house (I have a ledge and a flatbar). It’s for sure not fun to skate by your self, but what can you do? Lately I’ve been doing “FaceTime sesh” with the homies. Or there is a big downhill close to my house, so every time that somebody needs something, I just go out for them and come back skating the downhill, haha. Every excuse is good to go out!
How are the skaters adapting to it? Skating alone, or still going out in groups?
Alone for sure! Some of my friends live in the same neighborhood and are able to meet up and skate the flatbar together. If not, FaceTime your homies!