Council enforcement officers broke up hundreds of groups in parks over Easter weekend, despite a majority of residents complying with lockdown rules.

The officers, who visited parks all over the borough, talked to more than 2,400 residents and dispersed 263 groups ignoring government social distancing guidelines.

Waltham Forest Council recently chose to limit all parks’ opening hours between 9am and 6pm in order to discourage socialising.

Residents are encouraged to use parks only for up to one hour of daily exercise, whether that is walking or jogging and to remain two metres away from anyone not in their household.

Deputy leader and cabinet member for environment Cllr Clyde Loakes said: “Most Waltham Forest residents have followed the government’s guidelines on social distancing and we’d like to thank this large majority.

“Unfortunately, a small minority have not been following the regulations. Our officers, contractors, and police colleagues are patrolling regularly to reinforce the guidelines and disperse groups where necessary.

“If people do not follow the government social distancing rules, there is every chance the government will order us to close our parks. We are determined to keep them open so that residents can exercise during the lockdown period.

“Please make sure you are keeping a 2 metre distance from other park users, and don’t use parks for sunbathing, football matches, congregating in large groups or BBQs at this time.

“By working together and following the government’s advice we can stop the spread of COVID-19 and help protect our NHS.”

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