PARKS in Hartlepool are being opened to pedestrians to allow people to exercise during the coronavirus outbreak. 

But Hartlepool Borough Council has warned residents to act responsibly and abide by rules on social distancing and public gatherings.

Gatherings of more than two people who are not part of the same family group are not allowed.

The Government has told people to maintain a distance of two metres from other people in public spaces. 

Play areas around the town, including those within parks, will continue to be closed until further notice.

Gill Alexander, the council’s chief executive, said: “It is important that people are given the opportunity to exercise and stay fit, but they also have a responsibility to follow the rules on public gatherings and social distancing which are designed to prevent the spread of the virus.

“We intend to monitor the situation closely and will be liaising closely with Cleveland Police to ensure that any breaches of the rules are addressed.”​

Meanwhile, the authority is also suspending car parking charges to aid essential workers and volunteers in the community.

Councillor Shane Moore, the leader of the Council, said: “We recognise that critical workers in health and care and essential council services are doing vital and highly-valued work to support the most vulnerable in our borough, save lives and support our communities at this unprecedented time.

“They are working long shifts, day and night, as they step up to this huge challenge. We are also aware that volunteers are stepping up as good neighbours to help with shopping and the delivery of prescriptions.

“We have therefore taken this step as part of our efforts to support everyone who is working against the clock to beat the Coronavirus.

“However, in doing this, we would reiterate the national advice for people to stay at home and only travel for essential purposes.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to remind people that they still need to park appropriately and safely.”

The charges at all of the council's pay and display car parks are suspended until further notice.