What social distancing? The North Staffordshire parks where ‘selfish’ teens, families and fitness fanatics are all ignoring the rules


Groups of youths, families with young children and fitness fanatics have all been caught flouting social distancing rules across North Staffordshire over the Bank Holiday weekend.

Photos captured at parks show teenagers hanging around the swings, young kids on climbing frames and adults using outdoor gym equipment and group exercise classes being held.

Now residents are being reminded to stick by the restrictions and not disregard closure notices on playgrounds as the sunny weather looks set to continue over half-term.

Under the public health advice, people are allowed to meet one other person from another household in an outdoor space and they must maintain a two-metre distance.

Hotspot areas have included Central Forest Park,  Longton Park and Hanley Park, and there has also been reports of significant numbers of people visiting Holden Lane Pool and not social distancing.

A busy Central Forest Park

Photos taken at a play area in Blythe Bridge show older children sitting on equipment and standing in close-knit groups.

Meanwhile, huge piles of rubbish including glass bottles and laughing gas canisters have been left behind by partying youngsters at Apedale Country Park.

Abi Brown, leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council, said: “Our teams have put in place so many signs and guidance notices informing families that playgrounds are closed in line with health advice, to protect people from the spread of this horrible disease.

“These signs are checked daily in our city’s main parks and then every other day in our smaller parks.

North Staffordshire parks with no social distancing in sight

“We urge families that even if these signs have been torn down, please do not use the equipment. Let me be clear: disregarding the public health advice is putting your own, and other people’s health at risk.

“Our parks are open to visitors, but we must all stay alert and continue to socially distance.

“Infection rates in the city are now showing a clear downward trend, after a later spike than in other areas of the country.

“However, the number of confirmed cases in the city is still higher than the England and West Midlands averages. It is vital that we all continue to follow the public health guidelines. The bank holiday weekend is not a holiday from the coronavirus restrictions.”

Teenagers hanging out at a park in Blythe Bridge

Staffordshire Police assistant chief constable Simon Tweats said: “We understand why people want to be out and about, especially after an already lengthy lockdown.

“But Covid-19 has not gone away and we all have a duty to protect ourselves, our families and other members of our community who may be more vulnerable.

“Please stay within household groups and keep two metres away from other groups not from your household. Overall, people have been really good and acted responsibly in public places and it’s important the good work is not undone.”





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