Visitors to open spaces must observe social distancing, says City Corporation
The City of London Corporation is urging all visitors to its open spaces to act responsibly and follow the government’s social distancing guidelines, ahead of another warm weekend.
Following the partial relaxation of lockdown restrictions, the governing body for the Square Mile has reported a significant increase in visitors to its open spaces, which include Hampstead Heath, Epping Forest, West Ham Park, and Burnham Beeches.
Over the recent Bank Holiday weekend, most visitors have observed the rules, but there were reports of some large group gatherings and, in one instance, a group of over 100 people socialising together.
The City of London Corporation is maintaining public access to its green spaces for residents who wish to take exercise and fresh air, and encouraging people to use the areas for the benefits to their physical health and mental wellbeing.
However, at the same time, it is also encouraging people to use the open spaces closest to them, in order to reduce the amount of traffic and the pressure on car parks, and to follow the government’s rules.
Current guidelines state that people are not advised to gather in groups of more than two, except with members of their household or for other specific exceptions set out in law. From Monday, however, up to six will be able to gather outdoors – as long as individuals from different households continue to stay two metres apart.
The City Corporation is reminding people not to try to use facilities that have been closed for safety reasons, including bathing ponds and gym equipment, which also puts unnecessary pressure upon staff who manage open spaces and emergency services.
Following increasing incidents of illegal fly tipping and large amounts of litter being discarded in some open spaces, it is urging people to take their rubbish home with them to prevent bins from overflowing during busy periods.
Oliver Sells QC, Chairman of the City of London Corporation’s Open Spaces and City Gardens Committee, said:
“We are keen for people to continue using and enjoying our open spaces, but we urge everyone to do this responsibly.
“Not everyone in London is fortunate enough to have access to a garden so, during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is entirely understandable that our beautiful green spaces are becoming increasing popular.
“Spending time in nature can lead to a dramatic improvement in both health and wellbeing, but it is crucial that we all continue to follow the official social distancing guidance.”
The City of London Corporation protects 11,000 acres of green space in the capital, including Hampstead Heath and Epping Forest, and over 200 smaller sites in the Square Mile.
It is constantly monitoring the situation across its green spaces. Open Spaces staff will ask people to move on when areas become too crowded, and encourage visitors to be tolerant and respectful of their duties to keep the areas safe.
Facilities, such as tennis courts, golf courses, car parks and takeaway cafes are being re-opened. Visitors should plan ahead by finding out which facilities are open and closed, and how they should be used, including those which might allow limited sports activities.
The City of London Corporation funds its open spaces with over £29 million a year. They include important wildlife habitats, Sites of Special Scientific Interest, and National Nature Reserves. They are protected from being built on by special legislation.
Notes to Editors:
The City of London Corporation is the governing body of the Square Mile dedicated to a vibrant and thriving City, supporting a diverse and sustainable London within a globally-successful UK. www.cityoflondon.gov.uk
Media Officer, City of London Corporation