Open letter from Royal Parks' chief executive to Londoners

By The Editor

21st Jan 2021 | Local News

Pen Ponds in Richmond Park
Pen Ponds in Richmond Park

Dear Londoners,

Usually at this time of year, many of us are hitting the sales, braving the crowds to snap up the bargains. But this isn't a normal year, and once again we find ourselves in lockdown and being told to stay at home unless it's absolutely essential to go out.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has declared a 'major incident' in the capital, due to the pressure of the pandemic on London's health and emergency services, with hospitals at breaking point and the spread of the virus out of control. The situation is now critical. The Government is clear that you should minimise time spent outside your home, but you can leave your home to exercise. This should be limited to once a day, and you should not travel outside your local area.

Not everyone is lucky enough to have a garden, and there are few places where people can go outside to get a change of scene and to boost their physical and mental wellbeing. Unprecedented numbers of city-dwellers are therefore turning once again to London's parks and green spaces for their permitted daily exercise, to interact with nature, to boost their mood and stay healthy during this crisis. Throughout the pandemic, these green spaces have stayed open, they're free to everyone who needs them and they've been a lifeline for many. Put simply, a walk in the park makes us feel better.

As the custodians of some of London's key public spaces, our dedicated staff are working incredibly hard to keep them beautiful, and to provide a safe refuge for visitors during the height of lockdown. We know how important these spaces are but it is a challenge to deal with the vast numbers of people visiting. Unavoidably, some parts of the parks can become more congested than others, so it is crucial that everyone accepts personal responsibility for protecting themselves and others when they visit. To this end, we strongly encourage you to follow the current Government guidance on Hands, Face, Space, particularly in crowded areas. We ask that everyone shows respect - for the needs of other visitors, for the landscapes of the parks and for the staff working so hard to keep the parks open.

For the next few weeks, we urge you to leave your cars behind and seek out those parks and green spaces closest to home, if you can. Please do the right thing, play your part and help protect others. Thank you to all our visitors who have been following Government guidance and sticking to the rules. London's parks and green spaces have been a lifeline for so many throughout the pandemic, and they remain here for everyone who needs them now and in the future.


Andrew Scattergood

Chief Executive, The Royal Parks

Colin Buttery

Director of Open Spaces, City of London

Shaun Dawson

Chief Executive, Lee Valley Regional Park Authority


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