Image above: Ravenscourt Park
Parks & Playgrounds
Public parks in the London boroughs of Hounslow, Ealing and Hammersmith & Fulham are open to the public, but not children’s playgrounds, outdoor gyms, tennis courts, skate parks and other facilities.
Kew Gardens has been closed to the public, but is reopening Monday 1 June for people to visit at a pre-booked time slot.
Richmond Park has been open to pedestrians, but not to cars or cyclists, with two exceptions: Keyworkers could continue to cycle through the park to work if they show their staff pass. Those aged 12 years and under could also continue to cycle in the park. From Tuesday 2 June cyclists can use the park before 10.00 and after 4,00pm. Key workers and children with an adult can use the park in the hours in between. The park remains closed to car traffic.
The gardens of Chiswick House are open, but not Chiswick House, the conservatory or the cafe. Gifford’s Circus, which was to have come to Chiswick House 25 June – 13 July, is ‘on hold’ until further notice.
Gunnersbury Park is also open, but not Gunnersbury Park Museum, and its programme of public events has also been suspended.
Hammersmith & Fulham’s parks closed for a week and reopened on a “trial basis”.
LB Hammersmith & Fulham decided to shut its parks on the evening of Sunday 22 March 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.
The following day Prime Minister Boris Johnson 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 were passed by parliament enforcing the lockdown and giving the police the power to enforce social distancing.
There was quite a lot of criticism from the public, that with big parks such as Ravenscourt park closed, there was nowhere for the public to go to take exercise, but leader of Hounslow council Steve Curran warned that if the public did not heed the rules and stay home, and if they did not observe the instruction to stay two metres apart when out in public, then Hounslow would follow suit.
Cabinet minister Michael Gove gave a press conference on Friday 27 March in which he said there had been a dramatic fall during the week in the numbers of people using public transport, and that the “overwhelming majority” of people are now following the lockdown rules.
Announcing the decision to reopen the parks on 27 March, 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.”