Ranger warns Royal Parks will be closed if dogs aren’t kept on leads

Parks will have to be closed if people refuse to keep their dogs on a lead, a park ranger has warned.

Dog owners have been asked to follow the ‘temporary’ coronavirus measure at the eight Royal Parks in London to help visitors stay two metres away from each other. If they don’t stick to the rules, it may become impossible for the authorities to stay on top of social distancing.

A ranger at Richmond Park, in south-west London, told Metro.co.uk this morning: ‘It’s such a shame that some people are going to ruin it for others. If they don’t follow the rules then it’s a possibility that the parks will close.

‘I know it’s difficult for people not to let their dogs off the leads and the dogs really want to go for a good run, but for now, we’ve got to ask people to keep them on their leads. ‘It would be great if there were a designated ‘dogs off leads’ section in the park, but how do you police that?

‘Plus you’ve then got to think about the number of extra people that will be on the streets and in much closer proximity than the park allows.’ Royal Park rangers are even more alert with sunshine and warmer weather expected to return this weekend. ‘It looks like there’s going to be nice weather this weekend,’ the ranger added.

‘But I hope people will stay away. ‘A lot will think they’re okay to come here for picnics, but we’ll just have to keep moving them on. ‘It’s very sad and I don’t like doing it, but we want to keep the parks open and the only way that will happen is if people follow the rules.’

A dog walker added: ‘I’ve been asking people to put their dogs on leads because I want everyone to be able to continue using the park. ‘I’m trying to set an example by having Rufus on a lead and I’m explaining to people that he wants to go for a run as well, just like their dog, but because of everything that’s going on we’ve got to follow the rules. ‘It would be a shame to have it ruined because of a few selfish people.’

  • The Royal Parks of London:
  • Richmond Park
  • Bushy Park
  • St James’s Park
  • Green Park
  • Greenwich Park
  • Regent’s Park
  • Hyde Park
  • Kensington Gardens

A Royal Parks spokesperson said: ‘Dogs must be kept under control in the Royal Parks at all times. We strongly advise people to keep their dogs on a lead at this time to support Government social distancing guidelines. ‘This is in line with advice from Dogs Trust and various London boroughs during the pandemic. Keeping dogs on a lead can help dog walkers stay two metres apart from other people and their dogs. 

‘We share your concerns for dog welfare and we fully understand how frustrating it is not to be able to exercise your dogs off the lead.   ‘However, this is just one temporary measure of many that we are taking to support social distancing guidelines, including closing all our playgrounds, temporary road closures to vehicles in Richmond, Bushy and Greenwich Parks, and suspending cycling in Richmond Park.

‘Less than ten days ago, the prospect of closing all our parks was very real, as people were not adhering to social distancing. Our sole priority at the moment is to keep the parks open, safe and accessible for as long as possible.’


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