Lack of social distancing in Richmond Park concerns MP Sarah Olney

Sarah Olney has called for more to be done to keep people COVID-secure in Richmond Park this weekend amid concerns around social distancing. 

The Richmond Park MP spoke out after constituents expressed concern that park users were ignoring social distancing rules, particularly when gathering around food and drink stalls.

The Royal Parks, who runs Richmond Park, have kept their green spaces open throughout the national lockdowns but last week urged people to behave responsibly and stay local.

Liberal Democrat Olney, who has seen people clustering around the stalls herself, said: “People just need to be more aware of what they’re doing and the impact that it has on other people.

“It is a lack of consideration.”

Government guidance states the takeaway coffee stalls can be open.

Olney has written to The Royal Parks urging them to act to enforce social distancing rules.

She said: “If the kiosks are going to be open, then people have to be more careful and be encouraged to be more careful.”

“There needs to be a lot more signage, I think, and a lot more encouragement to keep distance.

“The issue is not just the queues for a drink, but also the waiting for it to be made. I think more space around the kiosks would be helpful.”

The Royal Parks has confirmed that their caterers are putting out signs encouraging people to wear face coverings while they queue, as well as having 2m-markers on the ground.

At other ‘pinch points’ in the park where people are gathering, like park gates, the Royal Parks have also pledged to deploy additional signs by the end of next week.

Olney emphasised that the park, despite these concerns, is still a safe place to go and people should not be put off.

Said said: “People should not feel anxious about coming out and using Richmond Park. 

“It’s a safe place ad it’s there to be used. And it’s more important than ever.”

However, Richmond Park is much busier than in the first lockdown, with people taking advantage of the less severe restrictions.

The Royal Parks said: “The unprecedented numbers of people using the parks for exercise means that unavoidably some parts of the parks can become more congested than others.”

“We ask that everyone takes individual responsibility for their own protection and shows respect.”

More information about COVID measures in Richmond Park can be found on The Royal Park website.

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