Green outside the Maltings, Ely, to be fenced off to discourage anti-social behaviour during coronavirus lockdown
- Credit: Archant
The green outside Ely Maltings is to be fenced off in a bid to prevent anti-social behaviour during the coronavirus lockdown.
Mayor Cllr Mike Rouse said the city council wanted to “try and direct people away from the green in front of the Maltings where there are nearby residents”.
The action follows repeated claims of breaches of social distancing, evidenced during a visit to the area on Saturday by the Ely Standard.
Cllr Rouse said that while RBK who operate the Maltings café and restaurant as tenants of the city council had kept within the rules, the problem was caused by too many people congregating in the area at any one time.
He said it was a “pinch point” with people walking along the towpath, using boats and others bringing drink with them to the area.
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“We are trying to do something that helps, and the decision was some fencing and where it will go will be decided on Friday,” said the mayor.
“The city council needs to try and act in everyone’s interest; we are trying do something for everyone in their own interest, it doesn’t always work but we will do our best.”
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One of those at Ely riverside on Saturday said social distancing seemed to go out of the window, mostly because of a large group “who arrived in taxis with full crates of beer and bottles of spirits”.
He said: “As someone who was there to see a friend - at a distance of course - it was such a shame to see a few groups of people blatantly not abiding by the social distancing rules.
“Firstly, it is unfair to blame Riverside because they had a good queuing system which helped everyone to keep to the 2m distance guidelines. The same can be said for the ice cream van and Peacocks tearoom.
“The main problem was in fact a group of around thirty people in their late 20s to early 30’s dressed as though they were heading to a festival, arriving in taxis with full crates of beer and bottles of spirits.
“They were getting extremely close to each other and were particularly loud and swearing a lot, even though they could see a lot of families with young children nearby.
“The group ruined a lovely, relaxed atmosphere. One family even moved away in disgust.
“As the afternoon went on it was clear to see some of them had had a few too many alcoholic drinks mixed with the lovely sunshine.
“When we had had enough, we wandered to the park behind the cathedral, Cherry Hill park, and it was a totally different scene, competitively peaceful and quiet.
“The same could be said for Jubilee Gardens where families were all social distancing, having picnics and their children playing nicely. It was shocking, and quite frankly, worrying, to see certain people not taking the social distancing guidelines seriously.”
Whilst some found it easy to remain 2m distant from others not from the same household, the numbers wanting to catch the sun and river seemed, at times, quite daunting.
Minimal catering facilities were open although an ice cream van was doing roaring business and there was a steady stream of people to the Maltings café/restaurant.
The owners operate strict procedures for purchases and the traditional terrace area is unavailable and categorically out of bounds.
However, buying a drink or taking one with you and lounging in the sun is a tempting option.
News of the social distancing guidelines being flouted sparked a debate on social media, with one person saying “this is what happens when you allow the general public to make safe conscious decisions”.
Another said: “Carry on like this and Ely will be one of the singled-out towns for lock-down. Small town with a high population of people with many seemingly oblivious they will start a spread of the virus here. Thanks a lot, 10 weeks of lock-down has already been ‘bliss’ and don’t even start thinking about the loss of lives.”
A third said: “I have nothing against riverside businesses attempting to survive the lockdown, but if only one location is selling alcohol in such a setting - guess where everyone meets?
“And guess what happens when folks have had a drink or two. I’m pretty shocked this has been allowed to happen.”
A fourth person said: “Seriously? There’s plenty of other places to enjoy. Like your own back garden. Where is the common sense? People are still getting infected and dying every day.”
Another added: “I live in the area and can’t walk my dog along the river front, the rubbish is crazy, people have been relieving themselves wherever they want, bad language, hundreds of cigarette butts, plastic straws and cups all left on the floor, potentially spreading COVID-19. It’s a total disgrace.”
Another person said: “Don’t people realise the virus can exist on surfaces for hours and then be picked up indirectly with cross contamination despite social distancing. Stay alert? It’s not just keeping two metres apart.
“There was a report that two people with Covid 19 (at the time symptom-free) went to church in the morning. Through track and trace another person was found to be infected by sitting in the same area of the church in the afternoon service. This was in Singapore. Equate that to sitting on a bench or a wall.”
Another simply summed it up by asking: “Where is everyone’s common sense? This is far from over.”