Play Areas in Torridge to reopen as Government eases restrictions

Bideford Play Area

Torridge Council have announced that Play Areas in the district will start to reopen from next Monday 6th July in line with a relaxation of government lockdown restrictions. The facilities have been closed since March when the government introduced measures to halt the spread of coronavirus and as part of a "lockdown" campaign that saw many businesses closed and employees furloughed. Recent falls in infection rates and the lower likelihood of transmission in the open air has given the government the confidence to allow specific businesses and play facilities to come out of hibernation.

The roll out of park openings is being phased as the Council first need to carry out risk assessments to include safety inspections of equipment that has lain dormant for some time, and also to install new social distancing signage and guidance. The Councils play area inspectors have initially been focusing efforts on the larger high use facilities and these will be the first to open ahead of a scheduled programme of openings over the next few weeks.

Initial sites to open on Monday 6th July will include Victoria Park Bideford, and Westward Ho! and Appledore play areas. Slightly in advance of these the Skate Park in Bideford will be reopened from Saturday 4th July.

The landscape however is quite different to the last time these facilities were open and with coronavirus flare-ups still occurring across the Country there are a number of new rules people are being asked to follow. These include:

  • Social distancing between groups of people - ideally 2 metres - and to consider coming back another time if an area is busy.

  • Only one adult to attend with each set of siblings.

  • Equipment should only be used by one family at a time and usage limited to a reasonable time (suggested 5 minutes max) to give everyone an opportunity.

  • Not to bring or consume food and drink in the play areas.

  • Wash hands thoroughly before and after play - bring your own hand sanitizer.

  • Use litter bins or take litter home especially tissues or other cleansing products.

  • Not use equipment marked as "out of use" or enter play parks yet to be opened.

  • Anyone feeling unwell should also not visit a play area and should consult NHS guidance for further treatment and possible isolation.

Leader of Torridge District Council - Councillor Ken James said:

"Reopening our play parks is another step towards undoing some of the necessary restrictions everyone has been living under for the last few months. I know that children and families will welcome the freedom of being outdoors and the healthy play these facilities encourage.

However if we don't want to see a return to further periods of lockdown we need everyone's help and support to stay vigilant and observe all the new guidance we've implemented and included on new signage and posters. Particularly in the short term this will mean not entering play parks yet to be opened. If we continue to all work together I remain hopeful that we will continue to stay on top of things and keep infection rates low and in check."

Parents are reminded that if they have a garden or access to other safer spaces, such as the beach, for their children to play in then they should continue to use them rather than go to a play area. As with all outdoor equipment for general public use, play areas cannot be guaranteed to be free of COVID-19. Parents should supervise their children at all times and should take all reasonable precautions to ensure the safety of themselves and their children while using the equipment and both before and after play by washing hands thoroughly.

For the latest Government guidance for owners and operators of playgrounds and outdoor gyms, visit: Guidance for managing playgrounds and outdoor gyms

03 July 2020