With the weather forecast looking good, London’s parks would normally be packed with people enjoying themselves in glorious sunshine. It is of course tempting to go outside, get together with friends or loved ones and enjoy our great open spaces.
Unfortunately, however, we are not in normal times. That is why we are asking people to be responsible and think very carefully about how they are using these spaces.
The City of London Corporation runs over 200 small green spaces in the Square Mile, with a further 18 locations across the capital including the likes of Hampstead Heath and Epping Forest.
We want to keep these spaces open for the people who need them now more than ever. That’s why it is essential everybody works together to ensure the Government’s instructions on Covid-19 are followed.
This is not a message I relish saying. Nothing sums our great city up more than green parks and riversides packed with people socialising, exercising, sunbathing, boating, eating, drinking and simply enjoying the freedom and space to do what they want.
Yes it’s tough, but remember these fantastic outdoor environments will still be here in a few months, and there will of course be plenty more sunny days ahead once this crisis is over. For now though, I implore everyone to please stay at home to help stop the spread of Covid-19 unless you have to shop for basic necessities, one form of exercise locally a day, any medical need or travelling for work purposes if you are a key worker.
I know many people in London are not lucky enough to have a garden, and many families are living in very cramped conditions. Our public spaces are becoming more and more important as the restrictions go on.
The guidance to people using our open spaces is very simple and clear – go out only once for exercise a day, stay as local as possible, don’t gather in groups, keep your two metre distance, take litter home, and keep dogs under control and preferably on a lead.
It’s clearly not ok to have picnics, sunbathe, play frisbee or cycle where it is not allowed, or abuse those putting themselves at risk to keep these spaces open. By working together and being sensible we can make sure that our great open public spaces stay open, and play their vital role in keeping Londoners as fit and healthy as possible.
Of course these are very difficult times and never could we have imagined that we would be asking anyone to think very carefully about how they are using our spaces. There is no doubt that our physical and mental health benefits from daily exercise at this difficult time and we want to make sure our green spaces are open to all that need them.
I do ask though that everyone of us does our bit, and – as much as possible – enjoy the sunshine from the comfort of our gardens, balconies and windows. Don’t let this fantastic weather do more harm than good.