Statement from Cllr Stephen Cowan on re-opening of parks

Many people are still coming to terms with the huge changes we need to make to our lives because of coronavirus. That is quite understandable given the surreal nature of this pandemic. But 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 last Sunday night (23 March).

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 - which you can read about here.

Because these new laws will enforce the social distancing regime, backed up by our highly-visible public information campaign, our parks were able to re-open from 2pm today. This will be on a trial basis.

Stay Home Save Lives banner attached to fence outside a park
Major publicity campaign banner on a park fence

The government have made it clear that councils should keep children’s play areas, skate parks, outdoor gyms and other sports facilities closed. So, they will remain closed and the authorities will enforce these closures.

We are two weeks away from a surge in cases and roughly a month away from the expected super-surge. The NHS is imploring us to do everything we can to encourage people to stay in their homes and not to add to its intolerable burden.

The disease is easily spread in a number of ways when people come into contact with others from outside their immediate household. It transmits by touching, from coughs or sneezes, and even from the tiny mist everyone generates when they speak. A big problem is many fit and healthy people show few symptoms but if just one fit, but COVID-19 infected, person returns home and passes it onto one or more vulnerable relatives there’s a possibility the virus could kill them.

We can protect ourselves and those we love by following the government’s new laws. Staying a car’s length away from people outside our immediate household will help keep coronavirus at bay.

I appreciate how tough this period is. We are all worried about our friends and family and anxious about how we will all cope stuck at home. Our team at Hammersmith & Fulham is working all waking hours and seven days a week to get us ready. I am extremely grateful to our partners in the NHS, police and emergency services, charities, residents’ groups, our two MPs, and all the volunteers across our borough.

We’re determined to do everything we can to keep people safe and that all of us get through this together. Please take care and very best wishes to all.

Stay Home Save Lives banner on a park fence
Everyone should be trying to follow safe distancing measures as much as is practicable

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