Hammersmith & Fulham reopen parks

LB Hammersmith & Fulham have decided to reopen their parks from 2.00pm today (Friday 27 March). Playgrounds will remain closed.

The council decided to shut the parks last Sunday after London was full of people out enjoying the spring sunshine over the weekend, ignoring Government advice on social distancing. Mayor of London Sadiq Khan urged people to “stop social mixing”, saying “people will die” if they don’t.

Since then, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced that people must stay inside, leaving home only to buy food and medicine, to exercise once a day and to travel to and from essential work. Emergency laws have been passed by parliament this week, giving the police the power to enforce social distancing.

Cabinet minister Michael Gove gave a press conference today in which he said there had been a dramatic fall this week in the numbers of people using public transport, and that the “overwhelming majority” of people are now following the lockdown rules.

There has been quite a lot of criticism from the public during the week that with big parks such as Ravenscourt park closed, there is nowhere for the public to go to take exercise. Announcing the change today, leader of Hammersmith & Fulham council Steve Cowan said:

“Last weekend, despite the best efforts of parks police, the COVID-19 contagion was potentially being passed on by people socialising in Hammersmith & Fulham’s parks. Because of that public health threat to many thousands of our residents, the parks were closed on Sunday night.

“Yesterday the government’s new emergency laws came into force which introduce a series of restrictions on people’s movement and gatherings and give the police new powers to enforce the new laws. Apart from the once-daily exercise, people are now obliged to stay in their homes and only leave for exceptional reasons.

“Because these new laws will enforce the social distancing regime, backed up by our highly-visible public information campaign, our parks can now re-open and will do so from 2pm today. This will be on a trial basis.”