James O'Brien 10am - 1pm
Security will 'step in' to enforce social distancing, park boss warns
13 May 2020, 07:59
Park rangers will "step in" if social distancing measures are ignored in open spaces, the boss of London's Olympic Park has warned as restrictions on outdoor activities are eased.
Security will monitor visitors to ensure safety measures are maintained, with many expected to flock to parks and recreational areas following the Government's relaxation of the "stay local" message, meaning people can drive to outdoor open areas.
Mark Camley, executive director of parks and venues at the London Legacy Development Corporation which runs the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in east London, has urged people not to travel far and to enjoy the outdoor spaces nearby.
Speaking on behalf of London's major park authorities, Mr Camley also said the police may get involved if people continually ignore the two-metre distancing advice.
He said: "The expectation now is that people will go out more as it gets warmer, so parks across London will have to introduce measures to ensure people stay two metres apart.
"Messaging has been put out on pathways and fences around Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford, for example, urging people to abide by social distancing measures, and to not engage with people outside their household.
"We've even used the screen on the London Stadium to push the message out there."
Mr Camley added: "We are really relying on people to use their own common sense, but some will ignore the advice unfortunately, and we will be deploying security and park rangers where necessary to step in and have a quiet word reminding those to stay apart.
"If there are major issues, I think parks would not hesitate in getting the police involved, but we don't want to get to that, we really want people to use their common sense."
An open letter to the public by park bosses, including the royal parks such as Hyde Park, advises people to "stay local" to avoid crowding in popular areas, and to try and walk or cycle to outdoor areas.
The letter said: "It might be that on occasions those working hard to keep these spaces open will ask people to move on as areas are getting too crowded, please respect that and be kind in your response as they are only doing their job to keep open spaces safe. We ask you to support us so we don't risk losing these opportunities."
Elsewhere in the UK, visitors to the South Downs National Park have been advised to stick to the path, keep their dogs on their lead and take their litter home, while much further north people are being warned not to "rush back" to the Lake District.
Other authorities will be keeping car parks closed and will not be reopening tennis courts or golf courses immediately to avoid crowds of visitors congregating.
Dartmoor National Park said it was reviewing how to reopen toilets and was awaiting further guidance on how to so while safely supporting social distancing.