A ticket to run?

bencurthoys Apr 5, 2020

I hope it is uncontroversial to state that going outside - to the park, or to natural beauty spots - is not in itself dangerous, or or likely to expose anyone to the coronavirus or help its spread, AS LONG AS no one else is there either.

And I hope that it is equally obvious that when millions of people are unable to go to work at the same time and therefore all simultaneously descend on the same city parks, nation trust properties, beaches, and so on as each other at once, that causes dangerous crowding, crowding as bad as any that might occur in a pub or a club or a theatre.

It doesn’t matter what you’re doing or where you’re doing it, if it’s with lots of people it’s bad, if you’re alone it’s fine.


So, the news today is full of people getting angry about people sunbathing in parks. If parks are getting crowded, and therefore dangerous, even though it would be possible for small numbers of people to enjoy them, they must all be closed everywhere, apparently.

But there is an alternative. The ticketing industry are the experts at managing capacity and admissions and access. If access to parks and so on were temporarily ticketed, with timed entry slots, it would be no more complex than managing timed entry tickets to a gallery. If Brockwell Park or wherever admitted 100 people an hour, then it would be perfectly safe.

And right now, every ticketing system of every venue is sitting idle, and every front of house manager is furloughed. The live entertainment industry has the skills, and systems and equipment to start ticketing access to shared outdoor spaces tomorrow, and nothing better to be doing at the moment.

Individual capacities can be decided on a local, individual basis, rather than a one-size-fits-all policy that cannot possibly suit both nearly-empty North Northumberland where I live, and Central London where I used to live. “All parks are closed” is a terrible policy for dense cities where people don’t have any outside space of their own, and a ridiculous policy in somewhere so sparsely populated the whole population of the town could fit into the park at once and still maintain appropriate distances. “All parks are open without restriction” is also obviously a policy that does not work in cities where there is not space for everyone to go to the park at the same time. “Some parks have restricted access” is a policy that venue and ticketing staff can implement for minimal cost and effort.

We don’t need a massive centralised system to do this - just let local venues ticket access to local open spaces with their existing systems they already know how you use.