Reopen parks, beaches and nature reserves for public recreation

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We call on local councils to remove restrictions on local people accessing open-air public spaces such as parks and beaches.

Over the past few weeks too many parks and footpaths have been closed unnecessarily, as have car parks that allow access to nature reserves, beaches or parks.

Recreation in open air green spaces is essential for physical and mental health, never more so than now. Car parks must also remain open to allow access for disabled people and locals who do not live within walking distance.

These spaces can be used while observing social distancing guidelines; indeed, social distancing is much easier to maintain in wide open spaces than on pavements in built-up areas.

Defra guidance is that public rights of way should remain open, and that the risks of transmission in the open countryside remain very small. The government has called for parks to remain open. Yet nonetheless some police and councils are obstructing access to these spaces.

The lockdown is becoming intolerable for families cooped up in small flats, and many people living on their own.

The re-establishing of access to outdoor recreational areas is an urgent necessity, and a public duty on the part of local authorities and public bodies.

We also call on police forces to stop harassing individuals or couples for sitting on the grass or on benches in parks. It is not only joggers who need time in the open air - and so long as people are not in groups, they pose no risk to public health.

Police officers should also stop targeting walkers in national parks, and people sitting on beaches, unless there are genuine problems of overcrowding or of gathering in groups.

Councils should remove safety tape from park benches that prevents people from sitting down. Such measures discriminate against elderly and disabled people, who are unable to walk for long distances.

The public should be allowed the maximum freedom and autonomy that is possible at this stage. The last thing we need is public authorities enacting needless restrictions that make our lives even harder.

Sign this petition to Open Green Spaces Now!

If you have a local green space that is closed, write to your councillors asking them to reopen it.

Post pictures of your closed green spaces on Twitter using the hashtag #OpenParksNow