Residents urged to keep 2m apart as tennis and basketball courts reopen
Hackney Council is reminding people to continue to keep more than 2 metres apart and to be considerate of other users of parks and open spaces, after updated Government coronavirus guidance came into force today.
While the updated guidance has led to minor changes to national advice - meaning people can now exercise more than once a day and meet one person from another household - much remains the same, including advice to keep more than 2 metres apart from people not in the same household.
In line with the updated advice, facilities in parks like play areas, toilets, skateparks, water fountains and outdoor gyms will remain closed to maintain social distancing and limit the spread of coronavirus.
Two types of facilities in parks - tennis courts and multi use games areas - are set to reopen, but only for use by one household at a time or a maximum of two people from different households (per court or basketball hoop). These facilities will reopen in Hackney on a phased basis from Saturday 16 May, once the Council has installed banners advising people how they should be used.
The Council will continue to liaise with the police to monitor areas of the borough where social distancing is an issue, deploying Council officers and the police where necessary.
The Council has also provided advice and social distancing posters for businesses to use, and has been engaging with businesses to emphasise the need to trade responsibly, including at Broadway Market where it has asked businesses to stop selling alcohol in open containers.
While the Government's new guidance has sparked confusion on many fronts, the one thing that remains very clear is that social distancing is still vital to help limit the spread of coronavirus.
I can't emphasise enough the role all of us have to play in doing our bit to limit the spread of this virus, which has already done so much harm to our communities. It's absolutely vital that we continue to follow the guidance, keep our distance, be considerate and respectful of each other and continue to demonstrate the Hackney spirit that has defined our borough's response so far.
We’ve worked hard to keep our parks open - especially for those who have no outside space of their own. However, ensuring our parks benefit everyone is not just about what we can do as a council, but also about the efforts of our residents to make this difficult situation work. By following Government and Council advice, we can continue to keep parks accessible for all, and avoid the busy scenes we saw last weekend.
In line with the Government’s advice, we are reopening tennis courts and multi-use games areas, but we’ll be continuing to remind people not to gather in large groups, play group sport, leave rubbish behind, or use facilities that are closed.
Our parks are Hackney’s communal gardens; let’s treat them - and each other - with respect.
We’re working closely with the police, tasking our enforcement officers to patrol areas where social distancing is an issue in order to support the police in their role of enforcing social distancing and reminding people to follow the guidance. Public gatherings of more than two people from different households are prohibited in law, which the police have powers to enforce as a last resort.
We are also continuing to engage with businesses to support them to trade responsibly - without putting people at risk - and we will take action where businesses breach licensing regulations.
Visit gov.uk/coronavirus for updated Government guidance and hackney.gov.uk/coronavirus to sign up to the Council’s email updates.
What measures is the Council taking to help residents stay safe in parks and busy outside spaces?
We will continue to do everything we can to support residents, businesses and our staff to stay safe. Our posters, signs and banners in parks and busy open spaces will be updated to reflect the new Government advice, we will continue to task our staff to advise on social distancing, and where necessary the police will use their powers to enforce the guidelines. However, it is important that we all think about what we can do to support our community and keep people safe. In our public spaces it’s essential that we follow basic common sense.
Who will be able to use the multi-use games areas and tennis courts?
Basketball hoops and tennis courts can only be used by one household at a time or a maximum of two people from different households while following social distancing guidance.
Tennis courts (with the exception of Springfield Park) must be pre-booked.
Can I meet friends and family in the parks?
Government guidance states that people can meet one person from outside of their household in a park or open space - but they must still keep 2 metres apart. This means that we must not meet with groups of friends or family (unless from the same household) in parks, open spaces or at home.
Why are children’s play areas, skateparks and outdoor gyms still closed?
These areas remain closed in line with government advice to limit the spread of coronavirus. This is because all of these areas would be used by lots of people if they were reopened - with no way of maintaining hygiene.
Why have toilets in parks remained closed?
Public toilets in parks remain closed in line with public health advice. This is due to concerns that a number are too small to facilitate social distancing and risks related to transmission of coronavirus on surfaces like doorhandles and taps.
People who need to go to the toilet should return home.
Any person caught urinating or defecating in a public place will face enforcement action.
This position is consistent with other London boroughs.
How will you be enforcing social distancing in parks and busy open spaces?
The Council will continue to work closely with the police to task our own staff to patrol areas where social distancing is an issue, in order to support the police in their role of enforcing social distancing and reminding people to follow the guidance. Public gatherings of more than two people from different households are prohibited in law, which the police have powers to enforce as a last resort.