Parks and open spaces across Cheshire West remain open for residents to take daily permitted exercise – but they must observe social distancing.
This includes: avoiding meeting in groups, avoiding touching surfaces and washing hands when back home.
Whilst the vast majority of people are keeping to these rules to protect others, a small minority aren’t observing the practices in place to keep people safe.
Cheshire West and Chester Council says it is receiving a number of complaints about a lack of social distancing on public rights of way and parks.
Cllr Louise Gittins, leader of the council, said: “It was with dismay that I was told about an area in the borough being especially busy yesterday with people walking, jogging, cycling, sitting in the sun, fishing, there was a group of boys with a football, people with picnic chairs and dog walkers.
“This isn’t a holiday; we are trying to protect our loved ones from this virus and a minority are not respecting the very important guidance that will get us through this.
“I know this is new to people, none of us have ever experienced a situation like this before but please play your part to keep yourselves and others safe.
“If people continue to ignore the rules about social distancing, these treasured facilities will be closed.”
Following reports that dogs are running around, and owners are breaching social distancing rules to retrieve them, dog walkers are asked to keep their dogs on a lead unless they have excellent recall; especially where space is limited (such as in parts of the Wirral Way).
The government has stopped public gatherings of more than two people, except for members of the same household.
Cheshire Police and other agencies now have additional powers to enforce the new measures and will be issuing fines if people do not comply.
Cllr Gittins added: “Please stay at home, to protect the NHS and help save lives.
“I know this is a challenging time for all of us. The council, our partners and over 1,300 local volunteers are working around the clock doing everything that we can to support you.”
This is not advice or guidance but a set of rules that all residents are expected to follow. Residents need to act on these new measures now.
These changes will be reviewed by the government in three weeks but may continue for a longer period, depending on their impact.
For the latest government information, please click here.
Cheshire West and Chester Council updates on Coronavirus can be found here.
Advice to owners or occupiers of land regarding public rights of way
People living near to public rights of way are reminded that the public have a legal right to use a public right of way, and that they should not block or obstruct paths.
Some paths pass close to residential properties, and in some cases through gardens, but with sensible precautions there is no reason that this would increase the risk to householders of contracting coronavirus.
Public rights of way provide an opportunity for local people to take exercise and get some fresh air.
However, people should not be making special journeys to access them, and should not congregate on public rights of way.
If there is a particular problem with people congregating on a right of way then the police should be informed as they have powers to disperse such groups.
If residents living near public rights of way have concerns, they should exercise suitable precautions to ensure social distancing from people on the path.
They may also want to regularly clean any gate latches or other surfaces on any paths across their property.
In exercising their right of way the public should be mindful that some public rights of way pass through residential properties, working farms, etc.
The public should ensure that they keep to the line of the public right of way, avoid approaching buildings or approaching farm animals and pets belonging to those properties.
Cheshire West and Chester Council says it will take any further actions necessary in the event of any changes to legislation or government guidance.
At this time there are no plans to close public rights of way.