Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): safer public spaces - updated guidance

Guidance focused on design principles for safer urban centres and green spaces in Scotland during the coronavirus crisis. It contains information and examples of interventions that may be undertaken by owners and operators of public spaces to keep people safe.

64 page PDF

4.5 MB

64 page PDF

4.5 MB

Coronavirus (COVID-19): safer public spaces - updated guidance
6. Management of green spaces

64 page PDF

4.5 MB

6. Management of green spaces

When applying the decision tree, owners and operators are advised to consider common issues and temporary interventions that have been identified for greenspaces. Common issues outlined in this chapter include managing high footfall and restricted entry and exit points. It also suggests potential interventions to these issues from signage to floor markings and widening of paths.

Green spaces will typically include parks, recreation grounds, publicly accessible playing fields, public open spaces associated with housing developments and public burial grounds. These areas are likely to be enclosed by a variety of boundary treatments with 'pinch point' at entrances. The surrounding streets tend to have limited space. Green spaces will have high levels of use during warmer weather and daytime hours or when hosting seasonal events. Those in urban centres typically have high levels of footfall and greater likelihood of congestion at entrance and exit points.

Larger green spaces and those in less urban settings can be used to support physical distancing, accommodate the needs of different users and provide natural play areas.

6.1 Overview of issues and interventions in parks and burial grounds

Every park and green space will have its own unique issues and potential interventions that could be introduced to enable physical distancing but there are likely to be some commonalities.

Issues around parks and green spaces

Issues for maintaining physical distancing around parks and green spaces may include:

  • High levels of footfall particularly in warmer weather, during the day and in dense urban centres.
  • Addressing different needs of multiple user groups including pedestrians, wheeling, cyclists, those visiting graves or remembrance gardens, young people, families, older people and disabled people.
  • Restricted entry and exit points limiting the flow of people and potentially creating queues.
  • Need to accommodate different users moving in different patterns across these spaces.
  • Visitor bike parking, car parking, loading and maintenance access.
  • Ability to wash hands or hand sanitation in accessible locations and potential need for additional toilet provision.
  • Outdoor sports courts must follow the Government's rules on sports and leisure facilities.

Potential interventions that could support physical distancing

This is what you should be considering for the utilisation of pedestrian space:

  • Footway widening to accommodate distancing between pedestrians, including through use of temporary barriers, changes to parking bays, and cycle lanes. This may include the use of grassed areas adjacent to existing paths to increase circulation space and requires appropriate maintenance of all accessible areas. Ensure that these are accessible for wheelchair users and those with push chairs.
  • Reduce unnecessary obstacles, for example planters and add markings/tape on seating to maintain physical distancing. Security considerations and the impacts of measures on disabled people, those with visual impairments, and other groups need to be kept under consideration and may call for a balanced approach.
  • Signage and communications to remind pedestrians of distance requirements. This could be through markings and signage at entrances.
  • Provision and access to public toilet facilities.

This is what you should be considering for pedestrian, wheeled and cycle movement:

  • One-way movement of pedestrians to maintain 2m (6ft) distancing.
  • Signage to encourage pedestrians to wait and allow others to pass at entryways or along footpaths, and to step aside to allow others to pass.
  • Provide separate entry and exit routes for pedestrian access with clear signs.
  • Enlarge entrances and exits to minimise queues.

This is what you should be considering for queuing:

  • Defined areas to indicate where pedestrians should stand when queuing using spray markings or temporary barriers.
  • 'Do not join the queue' signs provided at popular destinations, when capacity reached.
  • Consider the needs of disabled people and older people, who may not be able to stand for long, in the provision for queuing.

This is what you should be considering for traffic management:

  • Traffic lanes could be closed, made one way or completely pedestrianised.
  • Consider the need for delivery access and timing and essential access for street works and maintenance, taking into account noise/disturbance issues for local residents where possible.
  • Consider car parking layouts and spacing, reducing capacity as appropriate.
  • On street parking could be suspended to facilitate other measures.
  • Security considerations and the impact of measures on people with disabilities, access for blue badge holders, and other groups needs to be kept under consideration and may call for a balanced approach.

Case study

In Brighton & Hove the council has temporarily closed Madeira Drive to motor vehicle traffic to open up the sea front promenade for greater pedestrian use. The area will be marshalled from 8 am to 8 pm daily to ensure that businesses will maintain essential access to their properties, while maximising the usage of the area for pedestrians and cyclists.

The diagram below identifies some of the typical issues and potential interventions that could be considered to enable safer levels of physical distancing within parks and green spaces.

Figure 6: Physical distancing interventions in areas around parks
Aerial sketch of a park in an urban area with highlighted examples of physical distancing interventions. The interventions are explained in the list following the image.

1. Widen footways on approach streets to main entrance

2. Widen footways within park

3. Provide movement guidance around park including consideration for one way circulation

4. Reduce traffic speeds

5. Increase space for pedestrians and cycles beside park entrances

6. Minimise pinch points, whilst taking into consideration security and the needs of disabled people and older people

7. Reduce unnecessary obstacles, for example planters and add markings/tape on seating to maintain physical distancing

8. Queue marking indicators at main entrance, popular park destinations and toilets

9. Signs on physical distancing and circulation, particularly at conflict points such as junctions and crossings

10. Use existing street furniture for signage to avoid impacting on pedestrian flows

11. Allow space where multiple queues meet

12. Marshals to help manage queues and pedestrian flows

13. Maximise access and introduce one-way entry and exit points

14. Additional cleaning regime and maintenance

15. Safe level crossing points to access parks, ensuring that any signs incorporate tonal contrast and, where appropriate, providing tactile markings.



First published: 2 Nov 2020 Last updated: 23 Mar 2021 -