When will playgrounds reopen? Date when children’s parks and outdoor spaces can open in England as lockdown rules ease

As various green spaces across England reopen their doors to the public once again, many parents are wondering when they can take kids to playgrounds to burn off some energy

By Rhona Shennan
Friday, 3rd July 2020, 12:10 pm
This is when playgrounds could reopen in England (Photo: Shutterstock)
This is when playgrounds could reopen in England (Photo: Shutterstock)

The government previously described playgrounds as “high risk” areas for contracting the virus - so when will they be safe to visit?

This is everything you need to know.

Are playgrounds open?

Under current government rules, playgrounds and outdoor gyms are still closed to the public.

The good news is that for parents and children waiting to visit their local playground won’t be waiting much longer.

In a speech delivered by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on 23 June, it was revealed that playgrounds would be allowed to reopen from 4 July.

He said: “Most leisure facilities and tourist attractions will reopen if they can do so safely, including outdoor gyms and playgrounds, cinemas, museums, galleries, theme parks and arcades, as well as libraries, social clubs and community centres.”

In the same speech, Johnson said that “close proximity venues” such as soft play areas and indoor gyms would have to remain closed for now, which also includes the likes of bowling alleys and water parks.

Will there be safety rules in place for playgrounds?

The government issued guidance for the reopening of playgrounds and outdoor gyms. The guidance described playgrounds as “a valuable community asset that provide children with a stimulating and tactile experience to exercise and learn through play”.

All owners and operators of playgrounds and outdoor gyms are advised to consider how they should implement measures to support social distancing.

“It is recognised that adherence to social distancing between individuals and households can be particularly difficult in a playground setting,” the guidance states.

It continues: “This will mean that other ways of minimising transmission risk should be considered and communicated to the parents, guardians and carers, who should remain aware of the residual risk.”

The guidance suggests the following safety measures:

- Implementing a limit on how many people can be in the playground at any one time

- Where practical, implementing a booking system so users can book a slot to use the equipment

- Place signs to remind users of social distancing measures

- Request that those using the play area limit themselves to only one family member accompanying the children

- Setting a time limit for how long one person can use a piece of equipment

How do I keep children entertained in lockdown?

There are various ways to keep children entertained while lockdown restrictions continue to keep them away from spaces like playgrounds.

The Yorkshire Evening Post published 50 fun activities for children during lockdown, with ideas including:

- Finger painting

- Learning origami

- Baking kid friendly recipes

- Making a scrapbook

- Trying out indoor gardening

- Doing a Joe Wicks exercise class

- Making homemade ice lollies

- Learning an instrument

- Building a hut, in your garden or your living room

- Give the kids bedroom a makeover

How do I look after my child’s mental health?

The government released guidance for parents and carers specifically focusing on supporting the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people during the coronavirus.

The guidance said: “Regardless of their age, this may be a difficult time for children and young people. Some may react immediately, while others may show signs of difficulty later on.”

The guidance explains that creating a new routine could be helpful, as routine “gives children and young people an increased feeling of safety in the context of uncertainty”.

It also explains that you should “look out for any changes in their behaviour” and that you should “listen to them, acknowledge their concern and give them extra love and attention if they need it”.

MindEd is also a free online educational resource on children and young people’s mental health for adults, which you can access here.