Sunbathers and picnickers urged not to spend Easter weekend outdoors
Chief Superintendant Raj Kohli warns anyone planning of flouting the rules should "rethink their behaviour"
07 April, 2020 — By Bronwen Weatherby
A police photograph of Primrose Hill
CAMDEN’S chief of police has warned picnickers and sunbathers against heading outdoors over the Easter bank holiday after last weekend saw hundreds of people defy the Covid-19 lockdown rules.
The nationwide lockdown, aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus, forbids people from leaving their homes except for key workers to journey to work, essential shopping trips, to deliver aid and for one hour of exercise.
However, officers on Saturday said they were “disappointed” having spent the whole day trying to convince sunseekers in Primrose Hill park who were ignoring social distancing measures to go home.
The Royal Parks said it might have to close Primrose Hill and Regent’s Park if people continued to flock to the green spaces during bouts of warm weather.
Chief Superintendent Raj Kohli said he is concerned the coming long weekend may entice people out of their homes again and urges anyone making plans to flout the rules to “rethink their behaviour”.
“This long weekend will be unlike any l have ever policed so please don’t go out for a picnic, please don’t go out just to meet your friends,” the commander for Camden and Islington said.
“The parks and open spaces are there for people to exercise, not to picnic and sunbathe. Those activities are really not essential.
“A vast bulk of people are pragmatically following the guidelines. Even on Saturday most, if not almost all, the people we spoke to did understand and did move on. The trouble is behind them came other people and we had to go and have the same conversation again.
“The guidelines are straight forward, it’s about key workers and essential journeys and whether people agree with the guidelines is not the point. The rules were put in place to stop our NHS from falling over and I think people forget that.
“The Prime Minister is unwell and that might help some people to think more closely about whether what they are doing is essential.
“We’ll do what we’ve always been doing which is engaging people and persuading them not to breach the directions.”
He added: “I remain optimistic people are beginning to understand that this is short term change for the greater good.”