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Council play parks set to reopen with restrictions

08 July 2020
Play parks across the Derry City and Strabane District Council area will commence reopening on Friday 10th July in line with guidance issued by the NI Executive. 
 
Speaking ahead of the reopening, the Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council Cllr Brian Tierney said that after three months of closure due to Covid 19 Council is expecting its play parks to be in high demand and widely used over the summer and holiday period.
 
He reassured the public that Council teams have been working hard behind the scenes to get the play parks reopened by carrying out maintenance works and health and safety checks, including deep cleansing.
 
Appealing to the public to be patient and to co-operate fully with Council, Mayor Tierney said there would be a number of restrictions in place for users that everyone must adhere to.
 
He commented: “Prior to reopening, Council has undertaken maintenance checks and risk assessments to ensure that the play equipment is safe to use and that all sites have been cleaned in preparation for use. There will be restrictions in place for users of the play parks with everyone being asked to sanitise their hands before and after using the facilities and to abide by social distancing rules at all times. We will also be asking people not to consume food or drink in our play parks and to stay if you or anyone in your bubble is feeling unwell or showing any symptoms of COVID-19.
 
“It is important to note that whilst Council is working hard to ensure that all play parks are reopened on the 10th July, due to the scale of the operation in some individual cases reopening may take a little longer.”
 
In anticipation of reopening officers from across the 11 Councils have been working with PlayBoard NI to develop guidance for parents to enable facilities to reopen.  As a result a range of measures aimed at minimising the risk of infection have been agreed and parents and children visiting play parks are asked to adhere to the following guidance: 
1.       Closed Play Parks
If the play park you wish to use has not yet been officially reopened, please do no attempt to use or access the equipment
2.       Secured equipment
In some cases, pieces of play equipment may have been secured to prevent their use on safety grounds.  If an item has been secured to prevent use do not attempt to remove temporary barriers or use the equipment
3.       Social Distancing
When visiting a play park make sure that you follow current government guidance on social distancing, encourage and support your children to do the same and keep a safe distance from others not in your household/social bubble.
 
4.       Busy Play Parks
Given that they are reopening for the first time in 3 months’ play parks may be busier than usual.  If the play park is busy, consider coming back at a later time and let your child know in advance that this may be a possibility to avoid disappointment
5.       Sanitizing
Sanitize your hands and your children’s hand’s before and after visiting the play park.    Take hand sanitiser with you and ensure you and your child use it frequently whilst in the play park
6.       Waste Management
Make sure that any disposable tissues, PPE equipment etc. is disposed of in the litter bins provided or, if one is not available take it home for disposal
7.       Be Sensible
If you or anyone in your household are showing any Coronavirus symptoms, stay home and do not visit the play park.
PlayBoard, the lead agency for play in Northern Ireland have been working closely with councils to support the reopening play parks.  Speaking about the reopening Alan Herron, PlayBoard Director of Service Delivery and Development said: “Play is a fundamental part of children lives, providing opportunities to develop physical, emotional and mental health and wellbeing, establish new friendships and develop new skills. 

Commenting on the impact of the lockdown on play, Alan said:  “Research currently being undertaken by PlayBoard has shown that the period of lockdown has had a significant impact in restricting children’s play and we welcome the reopening of play parks as a further step back towards normality. 
 
With regards to the level of Covid-19 transmission risk in play parks, Alan said: “Emerging scientific evidence suggests that the level of Covid-19 risk to children, particularly in outdoor locations such as play parks is low in comparison to other groups in society.  Providing play parks do not get excessively busy and that the guidance is adhered to the level of risk should be low”.
 
A copy of the guidance can be downloaded from the PlayBoard NI website at www.playboard.org
 
PlayBoard are currently looking for children and young people to complete a survey on the impact of the Covid-19 lockdown on their play.  The survey is open to those aged 5 to 18 years of age and be accessed at https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/PBYourVoice.