Council leaders have pleaded with people to stay at home this weekend as the first warm weather of spring provides a stern test for London’s lockdown.
London politicians fear that parks will have to be closed if people travel long distances to them this weekend, rather than staying at home or taking exercise in their nearest parks.
Some councils have already closed parks in their boroughs to stop people gathering there, defying new laws aimed at preventing the spread of the coronavirus. Tower Hamlets Council has closed Victoria Park, leading to an argument with neighbouring Hackney, whose streets surround the green space. Hammersmith and Fulham has closed all its parks.
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Parks in Greenwich borough remain open, although playgrounds have been closed. The same applies in Lewisham, with the lake at Beckenham Place Park also closed.
Greenwich Park – which is run by Royal Parks – is closed to cars, and is closing its gates at 7pm for the duration of the crisis.
Last Sunday evening it was nearly deserted in bright but chilly conditions – but there are fears an influx of visitors from other areas could wreck attempts to keep people two metres apart and halt the spread of the killer virus. Royal Parks has already warned it will close its parks if they become too busy.
London Councils, which represents the 32 boroughs, has asked people to stay at home as much as they can this weekend.
Greenwich Council leader Danny Thorpe, who is London Councils’ executive member for crime and public protection, said: “London boroughs look after some of the world’s greatest open spaces, but to keep these open for the people who need them most, we must all do our bit to make sure that this weekend’s weather is not allowed to cause more harm than good.
“London boroughs are working with the police to ensure that everyone does follow the government’s advice this weekend. People are specifically being told to go out once a day, stay as local as possible, not to gather in groups and to keep two metres’ distance apart. This is a message which boroughs are fully in support of.
“If people fail to follow advice, this could lead to stricter restrictions on movement – in my borough I’ve already closed parking near Greenwich Park and other local parks.
“Boroughs are urging all Londoners to play a vital role in the fight against coronavirus by remaining indoors wherever possible.”
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