Police instruct people to leave York park before it is closed over social distancing concerns

21 Feb 2021 @ 4.16 pm
| News

Families walking in a York park were asked to leave by police today (Sunday).

Homestead Park has been closed ‘until further notice’ over social distancing concerns.

The park, in Clifton, is owned and run by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

In a post on Facebook, the park authorities said: “On the advice of the Covid Marshalls from the City of York Council we have had to close the Homestead Park until further notice.

“We will review this with our partners during the week and will update you soon.”

And the Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust said on Twitter: “Alert – following advice from the city’s public protection unit Homestead Park is currently closed due to safety concerns over the lack of social distancing in key spots.”

Some of the people who were in the park as it was closed were angered by what happened.

Tom Blackaby said it was the first time they had got out of their house with their baby – “and we have to leave after ten minutes”.

Covid marshalls in York

He called it an “absolute joke”, posting: “The police were there telling everyone to leave.

“I know we are in lockdown and we all understand the rules, however the park was dead. What are people suppose to do?”

Arianne Dickens agreed. “This is awful. We’ve two young kids (two years old and four years old) and no garden, the river is consistently flooding – there are so few places to go.”

And Charlotte Ellis added: “This is a joke, stopping children playing in fresh air.

“The Covid Marshalls need to visit Home Bargains and places like that. They’re packed with people going for the day out.”

‘Good decision Homestead’

Homestead Park. Photograph: Betty Longbottom on Wikipedia

But others were sympathetic to the closure decision.

John Griffiths said he wasn’t surprised, posting: “We were there this morning.

“Three different families, separate cars, met up hugging and kissing each other on the cheek like it was the good old days of 2019.

“The ignorance of the few affects the many. It makes you wonder why the rest of us are bothering to adhere to the guidelines. Good decision Homestead.”

Police and City of York Council – who run the Covid Marshalls scheme – haven’t commented.

But both have run this message on social media today: “Are you heading to York’s parks or open spaces for your exercise?

“Please don’t gather: keep two metres distance and help stop the spread.”

On Friday, we reported how police had asked “hundreds of people” to take their food away from York city centre.

And Supt Mike Walker, the Covid response lead for North Yorkshire Police, urged people to avoid gathering in the public spaces in and around they city.

He said: “This is not the time to become complacent about the virus.”