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Playgrounds reopen after week delay

Relief for parents as Town Hall unlocks gates after criticising ‘ludicrous’ government advice

10 July, 2020 — By Sam Ferguson

Paradise Park in Holloway has been among the playgrounds closed during the Covid-19 lockdown

PLAYGROUNDS across the borough are set to start reopening tomorrow (Saturday), with the Town Hall leader describing government guidelines over their safe use as “frankly ludicrous”.

The government said playgrounds could reopen last weekend, but the gates stayed locked in Islington, with many parents questioning why pints were being poured in nearby pubs before their children could play on the swings.

Among new guidelines, local authorities were asked to pay close attention to social distancing, face coverings, cleaning and hygiene, public toilet provision and continued communication with parents.

But responding to online questions about why playgrounds had not reopened, Town Hall leader Richard Watts criticised the Government’s handling and promised that the council’s 187 playgrounds would reopen this weekend.

Liverpool Street resident Lucy Facer said it had been difficult to explain to her young children why the parks had remained closed.

“I’m sure the council has done their best,” she said. “But when you have kids and they ask every day why they can’t go to the park, it gets tough.

“The obvious question for parents has been why haven’t they reopened this week, especially when you see other restriction such as those on pubs eased.

“Children need access to these parks for their mental and physical well-being. It’s been so hard on them since lockdown started, and for parents, too. But the important thing is that it is safe.”

The council says playgrounds in parks are set to reopen this weekend, with playgrounds on housing estates to follow “shortly afterwards”.

Environment chief Councillor Rowena Champion said it was important that children and parents followed social distancing measures in the playgrounds.

She added: “Islington’s playgrounds are a vital resource for the borough’s children, and their reopening will provide young people with a safe space to exercise and play.

“Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, the council’s top priority has been protecting the health of our residents, and our staff have been working tirelessly to ensure that Islington’s playgrounds can reopen as safely as possible.

“We urge anyone using playgrounds or outdoor gyms to play their part in preventing the spread of coronavirus by maintaining social distancing and good hand hygiene by regularly using hand sanitiser and washing hands.”

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