City residents urged not to take day trips to exercise


Although Hampstead Heath looks glorious at this time of year, people suffering from cabin fever because of the coronavirus lockdown are being urged to stay cautious.

The City of London Corporation, which cares for the 790-acre heathland, said people should not make day trips to the beauty spot despite the slight easing of restrictions but should stay close to home – and wait until the pandemic is over.

A spokeswoman said: “We are encouraging people to try to stay local if they can and act sensibly by following the new government guidelines when enjoying our open spaces.

“If people do need to travel to enjoy an open space then please be considerate. There is signage up to encourage people to follow social distancing measures in our open spaces.”

However, in East London golfers will be able to start playing golf and players have flocked back to Woodford Golf Course which  the City owns.

It reopened this week and was fully booked from 6am to 7.50pm, with players starting at ten-minute intervals, following a two-ball rule.

The 22-hole Chingford Golf Course, run by the Corporation, will reopen next week for “a maximum two-ball game playable with social distancing measures in place”. Players need to book in advance for a game.

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And after Prime Minister Boris Johnson said people could start exercising more outside their homes Hampstead Heath will start to reopen its tennis courts.

Keen anglers can look forward to fishing at the five ponds they can use with a licence when the season starts on 15 June.

People can also play on the sports pitches – if they maintain social distancing. But the pitches are not being hired out commercially.

And the Corporation is not yet opening its athletics track because people usually have to buy tickets to use it.

Sports Clubs will not be able to use the Heath yet. Keen swimmers will also be disappointed as they still have to stay away.

Hampstead Heath’s Twitter feed reported that: “In line with the new government guidance we will not be reopening the bathing ponds and Lido at this time as there is currently no way to operate these facilities while adhering to social distancing measures keeping staff and swimmers safe. When this changes we will let you know.”

One disappointed swimmer, Samuel Warwick, tweeted: “May I humbly suggest that if we organise a booking system with half -hour slots for a maximum of 10 people, this would allow some start.”

But for now the swimming areas are out of bounds.

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