Don’t drive to Greenwich Park – stay local during lockdown, park bosses plead

General Wolfe memorial, 21 January 2020
The Wolfe memorial has been fenced off again

The charity that runs Greenwich Park have pleaded with people not to drive to the park during this lockdown – and enjoy their local open spaces instead.

Royal Parks has issued the plea alongside other park operators in London to try to reduce overcrowding in the capital’s green spaces.

In Greenwich Park, the viewpoint at the Wolfe memorial has been fenced off as it was during last spring’s lockdown; however, car parking has remained open this time, whereas last year it was only available to blue badge holders.

Unlike the last lockdown, Greenwich Park and Greenwich town centre have remained relatively busy, despite the “stay at home” order issued earlier this month, and the major incident declared by London mayor Sadiq Khan.

The plea from Royal Parks, the City of London – whose open spaces include Hampstead Heath, Epping Forest and West Wickham Common – and the Lea Valley Regional Park Authority was issued in an open letter to Londoners.

“We know how important these spaces are but it is a challenge to deal with the vast numbers of people visiting,” the letter reads.

“Unavoidably, some parts of the parks can become more congested than others, so it is crucial that everyone accepts personal responsibility for protecting themselves and others when they visit. To this end, we strongly encourage you to follow the current Government guidance on Hands, Face, Space, particularly in crowded areas. We ask that everyone shows respect – for the needs of other visitors, for the landscapes of the parks and for the staff working so hard to keep the parks open.

“For the next few weeks, we urge you to leave your cars behind and seek out those parks and green spaces closest to home, if you can. Please do the right thing, play your part and help protect others.”

Greenwich Park, 21 January 2020
Greenwich Park on Thursday: Parking is currently allowed

As well as Greenwich Park, London’s other Royal Parks include Hyde Park, Regents Park, St James’s Park and Richmond Park.

A Royal Parks spokesperson told 853 that all its car parking facilities, including at Greenwich, were remaining open. She added: “The cut-through the park is closed, but parking remains open as it does in all our parks.

“Exercise for health and wellbeing is vitally important during this time, but the latest government guidance makes it clear that you should always stay local in the village, town, or part of the city where you live.

“We therefore strongly advise visitors to walk or cycle to the parks where they can, however, we will continue to keep our car parks open for those who need them.”

The two nearest hospitals to Greenwich Park, Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich and Lewisham Hospital, remain under severe pressure. On Tuesday, 473 coronavirus patients were in Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich and Lewisham Hospital on Tuesday, with 47 in intensive care, according to the latest figures from Public Health England.

Case rates in Greenwich have fallen back to 713 positive test results per 100,000 people in the seven days to 16 January – down from over 1,000 a week ago, but similar to the figures seen in the days before Christmas. Rates in Bexley are down to 638 – a 43 per cent drop on last week – with Lewisham at 658.


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