A Norwich play area long before lockdown – photo © Julian Swainson
Providing the region’s figures over the weekend remain stable, children and their families will welcome the news that from Monday 20 July, play areas in Norwich will begin to be reopened.
Due to the number of playgrounds and work required, they will be reopened gradually in a phased way, with all open by Thursday 23.
Earlier this month the government announced play areas could be re-opened from Saturday 4 July, but it was not mandatory. Norwich City Council joined a number of play area providers, including local councils, in taking the difficult decision to hold off on re-opening until it was sure it could be done so as safely as possible.
At a time where some areas had seen increases in confirmed Covid-19 cases, including Leicester where a lockdown was re-imposed, Councillor Matthew Packer, cabinet member for health and wellbeing, thanked Norwich residents for their role in keeping the city safe.
Cllr Packer said: “Firstly I would like to thank everyone for their patience and for helping us to keep Norwich safe.
“This pandemic has affected our everyday lives in ways we couldn’t have imagined. Trying to explain to little ones why they couldn’t enjoy their normal activities, and ones that play such an important role in their development, has been difficult for all parents and guardians.
“We have been carefully working through the government guidance on the reopening of play areas over the last two weeks, and have come to the view that we will open ours next week if the numbers of reported local cases remain low this weekend.
“We will keep the opening of our playgrounds under review.”
The council’s website will be updated regularly as the play areas reopen.
The city council has 81 play areas across the city featuring 1,700 pieces of equipment.
Following careful consideration of government guidance on the reopening of play areas, as well as the inspection of all the equipment, it has agreed its next steps on reopening.
Where possible, certain equipment has been removed in some play areas to allow for social distancing.
Continuous cleaning of the 1,700 pieces of play equipment after each child has been in contact with them is not possible or practical. Therefore, parents and guardians will be urged to take what they feel are necessary precautions to ensure children in their care are kept safe.
Tips on how to keep children and others safe in play areas
Children and supervising adults should not visit if they have coronavirus symptoms.
Make sure you and any children you’re supervising maintain a good distance from others as much as possible.
The council’s play equipment is shared and is not sanitised. Consider wiping down touch points before and after use with antibacterial wipes you have brought with you.
Wash/sanitise children’s hands before and after use.
Use tissues for coughs/sneezes.
Avoid face-touching with unclean hands.
Dispose of litter responsibly.