Parks ‘could close' if social distancing advice ignored

Monday, 23rd March 2020


Highbury Fields (Credit: @FieldsHighbury)

THE council has confirmed they are willing to close down the borough’s parks if people ignore social distancing advice during the coronavirus crisis.

Town Hall leader Labour councillor Richard Watts took to Twitter today (Monday) to ask people to be responsible in their use of Islington’s open spaces.

Cllr Watts said: “This is really serious. So few people in Islington have their own outdoor space so our parks are a lifeline. But we will close them if people don’t act responsibly.”

In a statement, he added: “We are now at a critical stage of trying to limit the spread of coronavirus – people have got to sit up and listen, and do what we are asking. There are no exceptions.
“Exercise benefits everyone’s physical and mental health and our parks are a lifeline for so many people in Islington who don’t have the luxury of their own outside space.

“But we will close them if people don’t act responsibly – it’s that simple. The virus does not spread itself, so we all need to do our bit to save lives.

“That means you do not go out except for vital trips like buying food, taking exercise or attending medical appointments. Don’t travel to work or use public transport unless you do a critical job. And if you are out, keep your distance – stay at least two metres away from the next person.

“Remember: stay at home to save lives. It’s as simple as that.”

After a sunny weekend saw the capital’s parks and markets packed with people, the government warned tougher measures seen in other countries could be introduced to London if people continue to ignore public health advice.

Kate Pothalingam, chair of the Highbury Fields Association, said advice about social distancing wasn’t “getting through” to people.

“It’s really important to remember that that we could all come into contact with much more vulnerable people,” she said.

“Even if you feel well, social distancing has been designed to keep the whole community safe. It’s not about yourself, it’s about everybody.

“People in Islington don’t have easy access to a lot of green space, and it would be awful if the parks were closed because we were being bad citizens.

“If we want to get through this with our sanity intact, we’ve got to use our public spaces responsibly.”

Ms Pothalingam also suggested the situation could become worse if the temperature increased and more people flocked to the parks.

A spokesman for the council said: “Please help us keep our parks open by staying 2m away from people. We will not hesitate to close our parks if people ignore the social distancing advice.”

Yesterday (Sunday), Sadiq Khan called on Londoners not to be casual about social distancing,

“Life has changed, we’ve got to do things differently for a while now,” he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show. “Social interaction leads to the disease spreading, leads to people dying. Don’t leave your home unless you really, really have to.”


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