Opening of Norwich parks and playgrounds under review amid coronavirus fears
PUBLISHED: 15:13 23 March 2020 | UPDATED: 15:13 23 March 2020
The possibility of Norwich’s parks and playgrounds being closed because of the coronavirus outbreak is “under review”.
The government has urged people to abide by social distancing advice and to only make essential trips. Measures such as closing pubs, restaurants and cafes aim to control the outbreak’s spread by keeping people apart.
But, at the weekend, there were reports of people flocking to parks, beaches and beauty spots across the country, leaving prime minister Boris Johnson to field questions about whether people should go to parks.
Mr Johnson insisted he did not want to close down access to parks and playgrounds because of the benefits to people’s mental and physical wellbeing, but warned he might yet do so.
He said: “If people can’t make use of parks and playgrounds responsibly, if they can’t do it in a way that observes the two-metre rule then of course we are going to have to look at further measures.
“The general principle should be that we should all as far as we possibly can stay home, protect our NHS and thereby save lives.”
A spokeswoman for Norwich City Council, which runs parks such as Eaton Park, Waterloo Park, Chapelfield Gardens, Earlham Park, Sloughbottom Park and Wensum Park, along with scores of smaller play areas, confirmed the opening of parks was under review.
And Alan Waters, leader of the city council, said: “The rapidly evolving situation on coronavirus means we’re working very hard to ensure we keep essential services up and running and do all we can to protect the most vulnerable in our communities.
“We have robust business continuity plans in place across all the council’s service areas and these have been reviewed and updated.
“Any changes to our business as usual arrangements are being reflected on our dedicated coronavirus webpage www.norwich.gov.uk/coronavirus so we’re urging residents and businesses to keep checking in for key updates.”
Dr Jenny Harries, deputy chief medical officer for England, said children should not play in groups during the outbreak - and should keep two metres apart.
Some councils have already shut parks and/or play areas, including in Middlesbrough and Cardiff.