The Council are reviewing access to parts of the Recreation Ground following the recent Government guidance for providers of outdoor facilities on the phased return of sport and recreation in England. This guidance included tennis courts but it is not as simple as unlocking the gate, as there are other issues and details that need to be carefully considered, for example areas of children’s play equipment must remain closed.
The Council has been seeking advice from a number of sources, including the Hampshire Association of Local Councils, the Society of Local Council Clerks, Winchester City Council and its insurance company.
The Government guidance is primarily for sports centres and clubs that have membership and staff who are able to undertake COVID-19 risk assessments, implement cleaning protocols, monitor and manage use to ensure it is consistent with the guidance regarding health and hygiene, including the requirement that people exercise alone, with their own household, or with one person who is not in your household (as long as they stay two metres apart).
The guidance states providers of outdoor facilities should only reopen the likes of tennis courts when they feel able to do so safely and that until they feel it is safe and responsible to reopen, they should remain closed.
It has been noted that since 13 May some people climb over the locked gates to access the Recreation Ground, despite the sign confirming that the Recreation Ground is closed.
As a result, there are serious reservations that attempting to segregate the play equipment, while allowing access to the tennis court, will not deter people from using the play equipment.
Consequently, there is a real concern that it would not be safe and responsible for the Council to reopen any of the facilities at the Recreation Ground at the moment.
The Council recognises that the Recreation Ground is a highly valued asset for Oliver’s Battery residents. As owner of the Recreation Ground, the Council intends to reopen all or parts of the Recreation Ground as soon as it is safe and responsible to do so.