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Richmond Park News: 19 January 2021

I was happy to hear that four million people have now had at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, including half of our elderly care home residents and over half of those over 80. Nationally, case rates have fallen in response to the lockdown and the vaccination programme, although we may have to wait a few more days to see hospitalisations and mortality follow suit.

With so much focus on the vaccine right now, it's important not to forget that testing also remains vital to controlling the spread of the virus. In addition to the government's ongoing PCR testing for people who have symptoms of the virus, both Kingston borough and Richmond borough have now rolled out asymptomatic community testing, using the rapid turnaround Lateral Flow Device (LFD) testing.

Testing people in the community who do not have symptoms but are working in public-facing jobs, such as teachers, childcare providers, transport workers and retail workers, will make a huge contribution to stopping the virus. I've put more information about the respective Kingston and Richmond programmes in the Kingston News and Richmond News sections below, including eligibility, and how to book tests. You can book two tests per week, to provide ongoing safety and peace of mind.

I want to remind everyone again that the most important thing you can do to help us get the NHS out of the danger zone is to stay home as much as you can and be scrupulous about hygiene and social distancing when you must go out. I have had a lot of correspondence this week about public playgrounds being crowded, with parents socialising while their children play. Please do not meet other families in the playground, and if the playground is too crowded to safely accommodate you and your child, please come back at a quieter time.

Having heard from many constituents that they are worried about a lack of social distancing in Richmond Park, I wrote to Royal Parks this week about enforcing the rules, particularly around their coffee kiosks and gates. I asked Royal Parks to do more on signage and on managing queues for hot drinks. The Royal Parks replied to confirm that their caterers are putting out signs encouraging people to wear face coverings while they queue, as well as having two meter markers on the ground. The Royal Parks have also pledged to deploy additional signs at pinch points, such as the park gates, by the end of next week.

I do not want my constituents to feel anxious about coming out and using Richmond Park. With 2,500 acres of open space, the park is a safe place to go, and is more important than ever during lockdown. But please take responsibility for protecting yourself and others while taking your exercise there.

Lastly, If you are walking your dog in Richmond Park, please ensure that your dog is firmly under control at all times, preferably on a lead. Many of you will have heard news this week about the prosecution of a dog owner whose dog fatally attacked a deer in the Park in October. I would like to emphasise that owners are responsible for keeping their dogs well away from the deer at all times.

Image by Maciej Cieslak from Pixabay


I have spoken with a number of local residents and groups this year about access to services for people who don't have a bank account or whose local bank branch has closed. I am working hard to get these issues recognised and addressed in my constituency, and I wrote this letter to Transport for London (TfL) about cashless stations last week. Caroline Pidgeon, our Liberal Democrat Member of the London Assembly, a