Richmond and Kingston Covid-19 Update: April 14
Like all of my colleagues in Parliament, I was relieved to hear that the Prime Minister was released from hospital over the weekend and will continue his recovery at home. I wish him a speedy return to health.
Thank you to everyone who abided by the lockdown guidance and stayed home over the long weekend. I was pleased to see the parks were much less crowded last weekend, although the towpaths remain a problem. Please try to avoid using them; they are too narrow in places to accommodate social distancing. I would like to invite keen cyclists to enjoy our now virtually traffic-free roads, avoiding both the parks and the towpaths.
THE BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT
I have been contacted by a number of constituents who have been accused of breaching Covid-19 measures by strangers in public. I would like to clarify that certain people have been granted exemptions from the ban on cycling in Richmond Park. These include people who need to cross the park for regular medical appointments and essential workers crossing the park to get to work. These individuals have been granted exemptions on the basis that cycling through the park enables them to avoid the hazards of public transportation.
If you see someone cycling through Richmond Park, please give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they are entitled to be there. You will have no way to know why they are cycling through, but the park is being monitored and it will be more likely than not that they have permission.
I would also like to clarify that professional dog walkers are still allowed to walk dogs in the park, as long as the dogs stay on leads. They may be walking the dogs of key workers who are at work, or people who are sick or self-isolating. Dog walkers have not been banned from operating, so please give them the benefit of the doubt as well.
Lastly, please consider your neighbours when playing music in your garden or with your windows open. Your neighbour may not share your taste, or may be trying to read or listen to the birds in their own garden. Headphones are a cheap and easy way to listen to music while endeavouring to Be the Neighbour You Want.
I had a productive conversation today with Chief Superintendent Sally Benatar, who leads the Met Police's Southwest London Police Command Unit. She is happy to report that thefts, burglaries and knife crime are all down since the lockdown began. However, there is still some anti-social behaviour occurring, which should be reported to your local Safer Neighborhoods Team. Find yours by putting your postcode in here: https://www.met.police.uk/a/your-area/
Chief Superintendent Benatar also shared with me the Met Police's Four Es's, which describe their approach to managing the lockdown. They are: Engage, Explain, Encourage and only if necessary Enforce. I have been contacted by constituents with a variety of views on the police response so far, so I thought it might help to share this guidance here. CS Benatar assures me that Met Police officers "will continue to apply our common sense and experience, taking a sensible and graduated approach to the situation."
You can report COVID breaches to the Met Police by phoning 101, using the response form on www.met.police.uk, or messaging the Met