Parks and Public Transport: Coronavirus

Cabinet Office written question – answered on 15th April 2020.

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Photo of Lord Truscott Lord Truscott Non-affiliated

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to (1) close public parks, and (2) enforce only essential travel on public transport networks; and if they have any such plans, when they anticipate bringing them into effect.

Photo of Lord True Lord True Chair, Intergenerational Fairness and Provision Committee, Minister of State (Cabinet Office), Chair, Intergenerational Fairness and Provision Committee

On 23 March, the Government announced enhanced measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus, including the closure of certain businesses and venues. A full list has been published on the GOV.UK website. The Government’s priority is to save lives and the best way for people to protect themselves and others from illness is to stay at home.

Exercise is important for people’s physical and mental wellbeing. Parks are generally permitted to remain open, but only for individuals and households to exercise once a day in a manner consistent with social distancing measures. Communal spaces within parks such as playgrounds and football pitches are closed.

The Government has advised that people should stay local, and use open spaces near to their home where possible to avoid unnecessary travel. Where parks cannot be used in accordance with the social distancing measures, it is up to the local authority to determine what action is necessary.

Transport should only be used for one of the limited reasons specified in the guidance: shopping for basic necessities as infrequently as possible; one form of exercise a day; any medical need, or to provide care for a vulnerable person; and travelling for work purposes (only where working from home is not possible). The British Transport Police is deploying dedicated teams to national rail and London Underground stations to reinforce Government messaging and to help to enforce the new health protection regulations, and the Government will not hesitate to go further if that is what the evidence advises.

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