The independent London newspaper

‘Maintain your distance’ plea as crowds turn up to Hampstead Heath

Royal Parks warns site may have to close if people ignore social distancing guidelines

22 March, 2020 — By Richard Osley

UNUSUALLY large numbers of people have headed to Hampstead Heath to break up periods of home isolation, leading to pleas for visitors to maintain their distance from others to stop the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus.

Social distancing guidance advises people to stay indoors to avoid further infections, but visits to parks and open spaces have been approved as ways to keep fit and get fresh air. This, however, is as long as people do not get too close to other visitors.

The New Journal reported yesterday (Saturday) how the bathing ponds and Parliament Hill Lido were being shut down to the public, but now the City of London, which manages the Heath, has warned of crowded pathways.

“If you choose to visit the Heath today, please try to follow government social distancing advice, maintaining a distance of 2m from others,” the City of London said

“The Heath is a big place, with plenty of space and fresh air, but the entrances and main paths are currently extremely crowded. Please be considerate of others. If we social distance we reduce the spread of COVID-19 and minimise pressure on the NHS, ultimately saving lives.”

Cafes on the Heath and Golders Hill Park have been made takeaway only. The grounds of Kenwood are open but the house itself is closed until May 1.

The Royal Parks, which manages Primrose Hill and Regent’s Park and several other sites, also issued a plea and a warning today (Sunday).

Regent’s Park today [Photo: Simon Lamrock]

“The Royal Parks remain open and are vitally important at this time,” it said in a statement.

“However, social distancing, as set out by the  Government, is absolutely crucial. We have, therefore, taken the decision to close all our remaining take-away cafes and kiosks with immediate effect as people are not adhering to social distancing guidelines.”

“We will keep this situation under constant review. If people do not follow social distancing guidelines, we will have no choice but to consider closing the parks.”

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