Swings and roundabouts! Playparks to open up

Dessie Blackadder

Reporter:

Dessie Blackadder

From this Friday, 10 July, play parks and outdoor gyms across Mid and East Antrim will open again for public use, and we’re reminding people of all ages to play safe and stay safe by following the rules around health protection and social distancing.

In line with the latest guidance from the Northern Ireland Executive, Council is working hard to ensure all our play parks will be open from 10 July, although a few play parks may not open until next week due to some essential works still needing completed.

Mayor, Cllr Peter Johnston, encouraged families to enjoy the borough’s play facilities safely.

“Prior to reopening, Council have undertaken maintenance checks and risk assessments to ensure that the play equipment is safe to use and that all sites are ready for use.

“Following three months of closure due to Covid 19 we are expecting our play parks to be in high demand and widely used over the summer holiday period.

“We would like to remind families that other open spaces such as beaches, woodlands and open green spaces are also great places to play, and residents could consider visiting such sites, as well as our play parks.

“And if you’re a whizz on wheels, don’t forget that Carrickfergus Skate Park will also be open to the public from Friday, 10 July!”

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.

“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.

“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.”

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council Officers have been working with PlayBoard NI to develop guidance for parents to enable facilities to reopen.

Risk assessments have been carried out in accordance with Health & Safety Executive recommendations and research conducted by the UK Play Policy Forum into the impact of Covid-19 and children’s play.

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:

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, and we will get the play park opened as soon as possible.

Secured equipment

In some cases, damaged or broken pieces of play equipment may have been secured to prevent use. If an item has been secured in this manner, do not attempt to remove the temporary barriers or use the equipment.

Social Distancing

When visiting a play park make sure 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.

Busy Play Parks

Play parks may be busier than usual. If the park you visit 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.

Hand Washing

Wash your hands and your children’s hands 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.

Waste Management

Make sure any disposable tissues, PPE equipment etc. are disposed of in the bins provided or if one is not available take it home for disposal.

Be Sensible

If you or anyone in your household are showing any Coronavirus symptoms, stay home and do not visit the play park.

PlayBoard is inviting children aged between 5 and 18 to share their views about how Covid-19 has impacted on their play by taking part in a survey at https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/PBYourVoice

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