An update on schools, new opening hours for Victoria Park and an Eid message from the mayor

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Message from the Mayor

This week we have continued to see positive signs that the lockdown is working and the capital is beyond the initial peak of the pandemic. While some of the lockdown restrictions have been softened, we must all remain vigilant to prevent the infection rate increasing again and to protect those most vulnerable.

With the weather improving once again, many people will be happy to hear that from tomorrow (Saturday) Victoria Park will be opening until 8pm to allow more time for safe and socially distant exercise and relaxation. I’m glad we’ve been able to do this but I urge everyone to continue to follow the social distancing guidelines and to use our parks responsibly.

I know many of our residents will be preparing for Eid celebrations this weekend as the month of Ramadan comes to a close. This year has been a very different experience because of the ongoing need to maintain social distancing and the necessary closure of mosques.

However, it is also clear that the important focus throughout Ramadan on prayer, reflection, community and charity has continued across our borough.

Just last night I was delighted to attend a special Iftar organised by Tower Hamlets Homes and the East London Mosque and kindly hosted by Canary Wharf Group. A key part of this was the charitable delivery of over 2,000 Iftar meals to residents including those who may be elderly, vulnerable or struggling financially.

With mosques remaining closed, we are encouraging everyone to celebrate Eid at home with members of their household and to keep in touch with friends and family on the phone or by using video calling apps. While our parks are open for exercise and rest, they should not be used for prayers as gatherings of more than two people remain a risk to health, and are not allowed by law.

I have recorded a short video message to wish everyone celebrating this weekend a very happy Eid. Deputy Mayor Sirajul Islam has also created a video, as has Shaykh Abdul Qayum from the East London Mosque. 

Best wishes for the health of you and your family.

Eid Mubarak.

Mayor John Biggs

Celebrating safely >

Victoria Park opening times

Keeping our parks open and safe for all

We are lucky to have some of London's most loved green spaces right here in the borough. As part of our response to coronavirus, we've always tried to balance the desire to make our parks available for residents to enjoy, with the need to keep staff, volunteers and visitors safe.

From tomorrow, Victoria Park will be open for longer each day. The west side of the park will open at 7.30am and the east side at 8am. The park will close at 8pm.

If you're planning a trip to any of our parks this weekend, please remember these rules:

  • Visit on your own or with members of your household
  • Meet one person only from a different household while maintaining social distance
  • Always stay two metres away from others

Latest on parks >

School pupil

Supporting pupils to return to school safely

In recent weeks and months, our teachers and school support staff, parents and young people have shown common sense and great resilience in challenging circumstances. There has been an increase in discussion nationally about when it will be safe for more pupils to return to school. 

The mental and physical health and safety of all those at our schools - both pupils and staff - will continue to be the council's priority. We are not expecting schools to start admitting a significant number of pupils on 1 June, beyond children of key workers and those who are vulnerable straight away.

Mayor John Biggs has written an open letter to residents setting out our approach on this issue. 

Read the mayor's letter >

All Points East Online

All Points East heads online

Last month we confirmed that the popular All Points East festival would not be held this summer. Planning is already underway for an event in 2021, but in the meantime organisers have launched an exciting All Points East online hub to showcase some of the hidden gems of the festival.  

It will feature exclusive gigs, Q&As, archive shows, cocktail making, cooking classes, yoga sessions, museum workshops, artist playlists and more. The hub goes live today and will be available until 31 May.

Find out more >

TfL barriers

Top tips to travel safely

To help stop the spread of coronavirus, please avoid public transport if you can and only travel when it's essential to do so. If you do have to travel, try to wear a face covering, stay two metres away from others, wash your hands before and after your journey and use contactless cards to pay for your travel.

Transport for London is asking commuters to avoid travelling at rush hour if they can. The busiest times are from 5.45am - to 8.15am and from 4pm - 5.30pm. 

Travel advice >

mental health support for key workers

Support for those who care for us

We know that many key workers are under much higher levels of mental stress than usual and will need additional support during this period. In response, many organisations are providing extra support. Whether it’s having someone to talk to about a tough day, or simply being able to process your experiences.

Tower Hamlets Talking Therapies can help, with sessions available over the phone or online. The service is open and prioritising healthcare key workers. Residents can also self-refer online or call 020 8475 8080.

The Samaritans Keyworker Helpline (Our Frontline) is free from 7am – 11pm, seven days a week on 0300 131 7000. Alternatively, you can text FRONTLINE to 85258 for support 24/7 via text.

Seek support >

Shadwell banner

Please stay out of the water at Shadwell Basin

With the warm weather we’re having and another bank holiday weekend ahead, it’s important to remind everyone that swimming in Shadwell Basin is not only forbidden, it's also extremely dangerous. The water is deep, cold and there are underwater obstructions not visible from the surface. Sadly, in recent years, two people have drowned.

Our enforcement officers regularly patrol the area to help keep people safe but we need visitors to do their bit by paying attention to the signs and staying out of the water.

There is a further problem with the absence, in some cases, of social distancing. This remains essential while we continue to fight the virus.

Stay safe around water >

Mile End Hospital

Rainbows pop up to say thank you to the NHS

Special messages have been spotted outside the Royal London and Mile End hospitals to say a big thanks to the NHS.

Our highways team recently had these painted on roads near hospitals in Tower Hamlets to show our heartfelt gratitude to our healthcare colleagues. We also want to reiterate our thanks to all those working tirelessly at this challenging time to help our community through the pandemic.

For stories of how volunteers, organisations, the council and key workers are coming together to respond to this crisis, check out #TowerHamletsTogether on social media.

#TowerHamletsTogether >

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