The Outwoods in Loughborough have reopened to the public following the introduction of new coronavirus guidance by the government.
The ancient woodland was closed in March as the government introduced social distancing including restricting travel to essential journeys only to reduce the spread of the virus.
Charnwood Borough Council, which manages the Outwoods, working alongside the Outwoods Management Committee, was concerned that the Outwoods was attracting a high number of visitors.
Following the issuing of new guidance, the Council has announced the Outwoods will open today (Wednesday, May 13). The play area will remain closed as the new government guidance does not allow it to open. The public toilets will also remain closed.
Charnwood Water car park will also open today (Wednesday May 13). Shelthorpe Golf Course will reopen on Friday May 15. The public toilets at Charnwood Water and the golf course will remain closed.
Council-owned play areas and outdoor gyms across the borough remain closed.
Cllr Jenny Bokor, lead member for Loughborough, said: “As we have said throughout the crisis, the health and wellbeing of residents, our employees and partners is paramount and we are not prepared to risk that in any circumstances.
“Following the publication of new government guidance, we are starting to reopen some facilities including the Outwoods. We know people have missed them but public health has to come first and we have kept open Queen’s Park and Southfields Park in Loughborough and there have been other open spaces for people to use.
“We have added signage in the Outwoods and other open spaces to remind people of the need to follow the social distancing rules. Please stay two metres apart at all times.
“We will also have a staffing presence in most places.
“If we find people are not following the social distancing rules we will have no hesitation to close the facilities again. Public health is our paramount concern and the battle to defeat coronavirus is far from over. We all have a duty to follow the rules and act sensibly as it can literally save lives. It’s that simple.”
Parking will be free at the Outwoods and Charnwood Water for the time being and people are being reminded to park sensibly.
The Government advises that “at all times, you should continue to observe social distancing guidelines when you are outside your home, including ensuring you are two metres away from anyone outside your household.”
The guidance also says people can:
- spend time outdoors – for example sitting and enjoying the fresh air, picnicking, or sunbathing
- meet one other person from a different household outdoors - following social distancing guidelines
- exercise outdoors as often as you wish - following social distancing guidelines
- use outdoor sports courts or facilities, such as a tennis or basketball court, or golf course – with members of your household, or one other person while staying 2 metres apart
There is an FAQ section on the new guidance on the Government website.