Colchester Borough Council is monitoring the situation closely and will continue to take action to minimise disruption and keep residents and visitors safe.
Coronavirus: updates, advice and guidance
Date issued: 3 April 2020
With the weather expected to turn increasingly Spring-like over the weekend, residents are being reminded to follow advice to stay at home, protect lives and help prevent the spread of coronavirus.
As temperatures begin to nudge higher over the coming days, and with Easter fast-approaching, people are asked to continue observing rules around social distancing when venturing outdoors and visiting public spaces.
This always means only going out once a day for some fresh air and exercise, or for essentials such as shopping or medicines, and adhering to Government advice to stay local, use open spaces near to home where possible and not to congregate.
Although the council has now closed all its playgrounds, outdoor gyms and car parks serving its parks and countryside sites, the parks themselves remain open. When visiting parks, residents should abide by the Government’s social distancing guidelines and remain at least two metres apart from others. Gatherings of more than two people will be asked to disperse.
Councillor Martin Goss, Portfolio Holder for Waste, Environment and Transportation said: “It was right and proportionate that we took the decision earlier this week to close playgrounds and car parks across the borough’s parks and country sites. Public safety must be paramount, and we hope residents will fully understand and support this decision.
“People living close to one of the boroughs parks or country sites will find them still open to enjoy. We simply ask that you do not get in your car to travel to these sites and observe the social distancing rules. Our Parks team would like to stress how important this is, so that everyone can still enjoy our open spaces safely.
“The message should be clear by now: If everyone works together, we can all play a part in stopping the spread of the virus.”
Cllr Mark Cory, Leader of Colchester Borough Council, added: “Having endured nearly two weeks of lockdown, and with the weather set to improve over the coming days and weeks, many may be tempted to become complacent about the social distancing rules or drop their guard in other ways when venturing out in public.
“Please, do not do that. We must remain vigilant to the threat of this terrible pandemic; the restrictions aimed at defeating COVID-19 require people to stay at home except in very limited circumstances – no matter what.
“The increasing spread of coronavirus is very serious, and the stakes extremely high. Our NHS will simply be overwhelmed if we do not do everything we can – both individually and collectively – to heed advice and follow the social distancing rules.”
And in a further appeal to residents to abide by the Government’s strict guidelines, Chief Inspector Rob Huddleston, Colchester District Commander Essex Police, said: “The NHS and our emergency services are under enormous and increasing pressure to save lives and curb the spread of coronavirus.
“If we are to stand any chance of managing the demands being placed on us and ultimately defeating this threat, everyone must follow the Government’s advice and stay at home. The NHS and our emergency services are at the frontline of this battle. Please do not jeopardise the work they are doing to save lives and safeguard the vulnerable.
“Over this weekend, and going forward, the police will of course be out and visible on our streets, providing reassurance to keep our community safe, support those who need help and disrupt criminals. Where we encounter breaches of the lockdown we will be Engaging, Educating, Explaining and, where absolutely necessary, enforcing the new laws.
“I am pleased to say that, to date, we have not had to use arrest or fixed penalty tickets to enforce the legislation here in Colchester. Stay at Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives.”
For further information about the council’s response to the coronavirus, please visit www.colchester.gov.uk/coronavrius
For more on Colchester’s countryside parks visit www.colchester.gov.uk/parks