Please be careful and follow the rules at Sandwell Valley and other parks
Published 25th March 2021
People are reminded not to meet in large groups at Sandwell Valley Country Park, other parks and open spaces across the borough's six towns to help prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Visitors to Sandwell's parks and open spaces are also urged to observe social distancing guidelines to protect themselves and others, and help save lives.
The plea comes ahead of the next step in the easing of Government restrictions from Monday (29 March) when groups of up to six people from different households will be able to meet again outdoors.
Until Monday (29 March), people can spend time in outdoor public spaces for recreation and exercise on their own, with their household or support bubble, or with one other person. They must continue to maintain social distance from those outside their household.
From 29 March 2021, under the Government’s rules:
- you will be able to meet outdoors either in a group of six (from any number of households), or in a group of any size from up to two households (each household can include existing support bubbles, if eligible)
- you will be able to take part in formally organised outdoor sports with any number of people (outdoor sports venues and facilities will be able to reopen)
- childcare and supervised activities will be allowed outdoors for all children
- formally organised parent and child groups will be able to take place outdoors for up to 15 attendees. Children aged under five will not be not counted in this number
Over the weekend and continuing after Monday's easing of restrictions, the council will be working alongside West Midlands Police to carry out patrols at Sandwell Valley, Dartmouth Park and other open spaces.
People who aren't following the Government rules face being fined by the police. People can be given a fixed penalty notice of £200 for the first offence, doubling for further offences up to a maximum of £6,400.
Alan Caddick, Sandwell Council’s director of housing and communities, said: "During the pandemic, parks and green spaces have been an increasingly popular destination for people to visit.
"We have seen an even greater number of visitors attending Sandwell Valley and Dartmouth Park in West Bromwich, particularly at weekends. The number of people visiting the sites and people not adhering to the rules in respect to social distancing is concerning.
"With lockdown restrictions easing, school holidays approaching and hopefully some good spring weather coming up, we know people will want to exercise and spend time in our parks and enjoy some fresh air.
"We would just ask everyone: please, stick to the latest government rules, keep social distancing and don't meet in large groups to help prevent the spread of infection. And if it looks really busy, please consider coming back another time or choosing another of our many green spaces."
Dr Lisa McNally, Sandwell's director of public health, said: "Although Sandwell has recently had one of the fastest falling infection rates in the country, we are now already seeing worrying surges in parts of the borough again, including parts of West Bromwich.
"This killer virus has not gone away. Please avoid large gatherings, even outside, and let's keep everyone safe.
"Even if you have received the vaccine, this doesn't mean you can't catch and pass on Covid-19. Please keep following the rules and staying safe."
Superintendent Phil Asquith, from Sandwell Police, said: "We understand the desire for people to visit outdoor areas especially when the weather is nice. From Monday, the Rule of 6 will afford the opportunity for more people to get together. The Covid legislation however is very clear and I appeal to people to limit their gatherings to the prescribed number and where areas are crowded avoid them.
"Where groups gather in higher numbers than permitted, officers will actively engage with them and where appropriate will take enforcement action."