Victoria Park is set to reopen this weekend - but could be closed once more if visitors fail to observe social distancing measures.
The park was initially shut on Wednesday, March 25 following a joint decision between Tower Hamlets Council and the Metropolitan Police when some visitors failed to adhere to new government regulations designed to limit the spread of coronavirus.
It had prompted complaints from people living in the area, including those with no access to a private garden, who claimed they were being unfairly punished.
Ansd now Tower Hamlets Council has confirmed it will reopen Victoria Park from Saturday, April 11 with reduced daily opening hours of 8am - 4pm.
John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets, said: “I’m pleased that we are now able to reopen Victoria Park and grateful to the staff of Tower Hamlets, and our partners, who have worked hard to find this solution.
“I’d like to remind all visitors, do not ignore clear instructions and respect our staff, the police and other visitors. Public health remains our top priority, especially for those who are most vulnerable. We know coronavirus does not discriminate based on age or health and that anyone can carry it and infect others.
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“We want to be able to keep the park open but we all need to play our part by following the government advice.”
Since the initial closure, the council has developed a number of control measures to find a way to reopen the park to help support the mental health and wellbeing of residents during this time.
It said that the health and safety of residents will remain a priority and failure to comply with these measures and the government’s guidance on access to green space and social distancing could result in fines or closure of the park.
Richard Desmond, chairman of the Victoria Park Friends, said: “Victoria Park reopening in these challenging times requires all of us who love the park to take responsibility for using it in ways that are safe. We are pleased that the council have found a way to reopen the park safely and introduced new control measures to support this.
“Our experience is that a combination of improving weather and a long Easter weekend will put more pressure on Victoria Park. For now, we ask that people don’t travel long distances to Victoria Park and use a park closer to home where possible”
Regulation introduced on March 26 by the government gave police in England new powers to instruct people to return home and issue fixed penalty notices starting from £60 (£30 if paid within 14 days) which will double to £120 for second time offenders, and double again with each further repeat offence.
Individuals who refuse to pay a fine could be taken to court, with magistrates able to impose unlimited fines. Police are expected to apply common sense and discretion in the first instance but could arrest people where it is deemed proportionate and necessary.
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