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Photograph: Stephanie Revell
Photograph: Stephanie Revell

Public toilets in London parks are starting to reopen

Find out which loos are already in use (and when to expect the rest)

Kate Lloyd

Who’d have thought that life in the New Normal would involve spending so much time desperate for a piss? Just a few weeks ago, when we were daydreaming about the luxury of meeting up with one person from a safe distance, it never occurred to us that the length of those meetings would be determined by the size of our bladders. But here we are, working out how many tins we can drink in the park without wetting ourselves and considering the social politics of wild weeing.

The good news is that this era of tensing will soon be over. Time Out has heard from Tony Leach, the chief executive of Parks for London, and a number of London councils, and their message is that public toilets will be open as soon as people are able to socially distance in them. In fact, some are open now.

The loos that you’re already able to use? The ones in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford, as well as all the public toilets in Bexley and the City of Westminster. Plus, in Islington, there are five automated toilets open across the borough, as well as a staffed one on Chapel Market. We’ve also heard from a couple of Time Out staffers that the London Fields toilets were open last weekend, but no word yet on whether they’ll remain that way.

(Obviously, don’t be a dick and rush to any of those parks just because they have a toilet, unless they’re your local.)

Leach told Time Out: ‘Most local authorities and other landowners want to open toilets where it is safe for the public and staff. Many loos in parks are small and tucked away and don’t have permanent staff, which makes managing social distancing and cleansing a challenge.’

He shared draft guidelines with Time Out that detail what Parks for London thinks needs to be in place in order for lavs to reopen. These included a designated queueing area to allow a two-metre distance between people, a limit on how many people can wait in the queue, and cubicles remaining closed to limit the number of people in the building.

They also include the replacing of hand dryers with paper towels, hand sanitiser being available and signs that tell visitors not to touch surfaces. The toilets will also need to be cleaned more frequently by a team who have been provided with appropriate PPE and shifts that allow them to travel to work at off-peak times.

So, good news everyone: soon there’ll be no more desperate power walks back from the park. In the meantime, Leach says don’t assume toilets are open and check the London parks website or local borough sites to keep up to date with the latest loos news. Happy pissing.

These pubs are doing takeaway pints right now.

Here are six brilliant bike rides near London.

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