ARMAGH City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council will reopen over 90 of the borough’s play parks on Friday, 10 July after almost three months of closure due to Covid-19.
Following Northern Ireland Executive guidance, most of the 90+ play parks across the borough are set to reopen next Friday on a pre-Covid basis with a focus on user self-regulation. That means parents and guardians are required to take responsibility for social distancing and appropriate supervision.
While signs will be up in all play parks reminding users of the new rules, parents are advised to read the guidelines beforehand so they are prepared and can pre-warn their children of the new rules which may mean longer waiting times for equipment and advising them on how to practice safe social distancing and hygiene standards.
There are some new instructions that parents and children must adhere to - such as only one family member accompanying a child - so it is very important that guardians read the guidance before visiting any park so that everyone can follow the new rules.
Everyone will be expected to wash and sanitise their hands before and after using a play park and children are asked to try not to touch their face while playing. Children in particular will have to be told to social distance from people outside of their bubble, and no eating or drinking will be allowed in any play park.
While it should go without saying, if a parent or anyone in the family is unwell then no member of the household should enter the play park.
Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon, Councillor Kevin Savage, said: “We have invested a lot in our Play Strategy, so I think parents already know that we value children’s play, but we also value everyone’s health so it’s important that we all keep within the guidelines. Staying safe is everyone’s social responsibility. Following the guidance and being safety-conscious is the best way to protect your family and everyone else’s.
“While permission to reopen play parks is a welcome move by the Executive, I would remind parents that play equipment is shared, so there is still a risk. In an effort to minimise these risks, parents may wish to use wipes or PPE, which is great, but I would urge you to please bring your litter home to be disposed of there.
“During Covid-19 when the play parks were closed we were delighted to see that natural play in our parks and open spaces (by families in their bubbles) has increased across the borough. We would encourage families to continue to embrace our parks and open spaces to make use of natural play opportunities to boost the health of children and adults alike for the foreseeable future.”
Outdoor gyms, MUGAs, skate park and pump tracks are also due to open on Friday, 10 July. User guidance is available on the council website for the safe reopening of all these outdoor facilities armaghbanbridgecraigavon.gov.uk/coronavirus/#leisureamenities