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Supporting social distancing in our parks

Grove Park in Harborne, with two metre channels cut into the grass to aid social distancing
Grove Park in Harborne
Published: Wednesday, 13th May 2020

To enable people to use the city’s parks and open spaces safely during the coronavirus pandemic, the city council’s grounds maintenance team has come up with a social distancing solution.

From this week (commencing May 11), crews mowing grass at the city’s 591 sites are now cutting ‘channels’ that are roughly 2m in width.

They are then leaving channels of the same width uncut, to act as a visual and practical guide for the safe use of the city’s open spaces – following the Prime Minister’s national address on May 10, in which he eased some of the lockdown restrictions.

Cllr John O’Shea, Cabinet Member for Street Scene and Parks at Birmingham City Council, said: “A significant number of our parks staff have been diverted onto other street scene tasks during the early days of the coronavirus crisis.

“This meant that regular grass cutting duties were paused, but now we have reached the point where some of those staff can start returning to some of their regular duties. This initially began with grass cutting at key road junctions for safety purposes and now can be extended to other tasks at parks and open spaces.

“Because the grass has been left to grow for several weeks, it means where the grass is cut there will be a notable difference.

“By cutting these channels, we will be making our parks more usable – and usable in a safer way, where people will have some guidance on how to follow the national guidelines to stay 2m away from people outside of your family.

“The fact that we have 591 parks and open spaces of vastly differing sizes means it is not easy to promote the social distancing message across each and every site, but this is a way of doing something, best utilising the limited resources we have at this challenging time.

“We were already looking at this idea, but now the Prime Minister has made announcements that will inevitably lead to a significant increase in visits to city parks, now is the time to try this out.

“Sadly, we’re not yet able to open up our visitor centres, cafes, play areas, games areas and outdoor gyms, but if the country continues to make good progress, then I hope we can open them in coming months.”