Covid fears grow at city’s parks and beauty spots

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Liverpool City Council is urging people to think twice before visiting its parks and beauty spots this weekend.

Images taken by the council’s City Watch team show huge volumes of people are continuing to gather at popular open spaces – such as Sefton Park and Otterspool Promenade – raising fears around social distancing during the Covid-19 lockdown.

The council is equally concerned that many are travelling by car and could be ignoring the government’s plea to exercise as close to to home as possible.

The Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson has made a plea for the public to avoid gatherings, especially whilst Liverpool continues to see the number of people dying from Covid-19 rise.

The Mayor is closely monitoring the situation and says the council may have to look at deploying new bye-laws on how people can use their local park, if the problem of activities such as picnics and football matches escalates.

Merseyside Police continue to patrol the city’s parks and popular open spaces and have said they will issue fines where they find people flagrantly flouting the new laws created since the lockdown began.

Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, said: “We understand people are in lockdown and for many families a walk in the park is their most convenient way to exercise.

“People who live together and go out together is not an issue – the problem is meeting up with others whilst at the park, stopping and chatting and even in some cases having picnics.

“I’ve seen pictures which show some people are clearly not understanding the severity of the situation.

“Our message is simple – If you go the park, keep moving. Walk, run and keep your distance. During the Covid crisis parks, unfortunately, are not a place for stopping and socialising.

“This is a straightforward issue of common sense. I’m satisfied the majority of people are following the rules and are finding the right balance. But we don’t want to get the point where the idiotic minority end up ruining it for everyone and we have to look at bringing in stricter measures and new bye-laws to enforce this.

“We have lost too many people already to Covid-19, and have seen too many families cruelly affected, to allow people to think that this virus is someone else’s problem and it’s not going to affect me.

“Staying home does save lives – it’s a hard thing to do, I know, but these small sacrifices are going to make a huge difference and will help us all get closer to the day when the government can start beginning to look at lifting these necessary restrictions.

“So yes, go out. But stay local. And yes, exercise. But don’t hang about. And yes, visit our parks, but please don’t meet up with others. It may seem anti-social but it’s pro-life.”

Merseyside Police Chief Constable Andy Cooke, said: “I would urge people in Liverpool to listen to the Government advice and adhere to it. Only by pulling together on this can we hope to prevent the spread of Coronavirus.

“The vast majority of the public across Merseyside are heeding the Government advice and only going out for essential reasons and the half hour exercise that is permitted.

“But in Liverpool in the last week have seen we have seen indications that some people are ignoring the advice and there have been higher numbers of people out enjoying the good weather.

“As a result we will be out and about this week to check that people aren’t flouting the restrictions and to remind people why those restrictions are in place and to encourage them to do the right thing and go home.

“We have taken a common sense approach to policing the legislative powers given to the police and we want to work with people and only use the powers as a last resort. But my message is clear if you are consistently and flagrantly ignoring the Government powers we will use the legislation that is open to us.

“Those who are consistently flouting the legislation are putting others at risk, including their own families, and I would appeal to their families to explain to them the potential consequences their actions could have on their loved ones. At the end of the day none of us want to be cooped up at home, but that’s a better option that the potential alternative.

“These are unprecedented and challenging times for all of us, but we all have loved ones and we need to think about them and understand the danger we are putting ourselves, and our loved ones, in.”