The phrase ‘you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone’ has never felt more pertinent right now. A few weeks ago, little did we know we’d be pining for the freedom to leave the house more than once a day and hang out in the park for more than an hour. We’re all seeing our local patches of green with a new-found appreciation, especially Londoners without a garden. However, residents in Lewisham have been warned that parks in the borough could be shut if people fail to follow social distancing guidelines.
This week, Sophie McGeevor, cabinet member for environment and transport, said in a video statement: ‘We’re living in unprecedented times and unless people follow government guidance, there could be further restrictions on movement and that means our parks could close.’
There are 45 parks and open spaces in Lewisham that could be at risk of closure if rules are breached. The council added: ‘We’re lucky to have so many green spaces in our borough, and for many of our families, particularly those without access to gardens, they’re an absolute lifeline. That is why it’s vital that we follow government guidance on social distancing so that our parks can stay open.’
The government has previously stressed the importance of keeping parks and green spaces open wherever possible, with communities secretary Robert Jenrick saying in a Downing Street daily briefing at the weekend: ‘People need parks. That’s why I made it clear to councils that all parks must remain open.’ Lewisham council re-posted their video statement on Twitter on Sunday.
However, the announcement follows the closure and reopening of many London parks, including Brockwell Park in Brixton, which was closed and reopened after 3,000 Londoners visited the green space over the Easter bank holiday with ‘some visitors sunbathing and congregating in large groups,’ according to Lambeth council. East London’s Victoria Park and green spaces in Hammersmith & Fulham are also open again after temporary closures.
So what exactly are the rules? Read up on all the new guidelines on exercising and moving around in London.