COVID-19 remains a threat but the Government has eased the rules.
Hand washing and the average two metre physical distancing rule (minimum 1 metre from 4 July) remain critical to reducing the spread of coronavirus . In England, face coverings are required by law on public transport and can ease public anxieties in stations, shops, offices and busy places. Facial coverings don't prevent you from contracting COVID-19, but do reduce the risks of infection.
Parks remain open for exercise and relaxation, Physical distancing rules still apply, as does all the guidance around hand washing. Two households can now meet outdoors or indoors, and stay overnight, but must maintain distancing and hygiene guidance.
Public space remains an issue for many who do not live near a park and don't have access to a garden or communal area. But some of the pressure will be removed from parks as pubs, restaurants, galleries, libraries and museums can open from 4 July. Hotels, campsites and holiday accomodation will also open from 4 July. Green gyms can be used from 4 July, but indoor gyms must remain closed.
In many cases, parks and public spaces are operating with reduced teams to cleean and maintain them, which means bins are emptied lesss often and things like grass cutting or habitat management may well be reduced. The lifting of the closure for green gyms and children's playgrounds will add extra pressure and expense on some councils.
Visitors can help by keeping play or exercise equipment clean, picking-up litter and ensuring it is disposed of properly. If you spot any park damage or issues which may be of concern, be sure to report it.
People have been volunteering to help clean parks or water thirsty trees and plants. Ensuring volunteers are safe, suitably equipped for any tasks, and are not exposed to any unnecesary threats from COVID-19 or anything else, can be a full-time job, which some local council's cannot resource at present. This is where a Park Friend's group may be able to offer support.
So, the magic numbers to remember from 4 July are:
- 1m+ - That's the minimum distance between people (use your judgement)
- 2 households can now meet outdoors or indoors
- 6 - the recommended number of people you can meet outdoors, but this can be more where 2 households come together.
- 41% of adults say they visit parks.
- 72% of adults in London want their local green space improved according to a CPRE survey
- 87% of adults say... "being in nature makes me feel happy”.
- 600+ Park Friends groups operate across Greater London.
- 4000+ is the number of public parks and open spaces you can find to explore on the GoParks.London map.
The impacts of Coronavirus will leave their mark through our society for many years to come. It's had a big impact on how we live and move around. What has been a real positive is the way communities have come together to offer each other compasionate support. We may well have to live with physical distancing for a long time, but we are learning new ways to be together while apart.
Why not become one of the magic number of people helping to make London greener, healthier and wilder for all, by volunteering with any of the local groups working in your community.