Four skate parks and 12 multi-use games areas (MUGAs) will be re-opening to the public from Monday (6 July) and East Devon District Council is working towards opening some play parks too over the coming weeks as the UK gradually comes out of Coronavirus lockdown.
The district council manages 71 play areas, as well as the skate parks and MUGAs, which were all closed in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.
As part of the easing of restrictions, and following a rigorous risk assessment of skate parks and MUGAs, the following sites will re-open from Monday (6 July):
Skate parks: Budleigh Salterton (Lime Kiln); Exmouth (Phear Park); Honiton (Allhallows) and Seaton (Underfleet).
Multi-use games areas: Phear Park, Exmouth x 2; Liverton Copse, Cumberland Close, Exmouth; King George’s Field, Carter Avenue, Exmouth; The Crescent, Exmouth; Foxhill, Axminster; St Mark’s, Honiton; Davey Playing Field, Honiton; Thorne Farm Way, Ottery St Mary; All Hallows, Honiton; Winter’s Lane, Ottery St Mary and Greenway Lane, Budleigh Salterton.
New signage will be required to be in place to remind people to maintain social distancing, to wash their hands thoroughly before and after their visit, to take their own hand sanitiser wherever possible and not to eat and drink whilst using play equipment. We are also asking people take your litter home or to dispose of litter in the bins provided, be considerate of other park users and if any play area appears busy, they should come back at a later time.
Re-opening of play sites is a more complex issue due to the detailed guidance from the government on increased cleaning of where people’s hands meet the equipment.
There are clearly many of these touch points where children play and, whereas before these touch points were not cleaned, the council is carrying out further risk assessments to determine the levels of cleaning now required in light of COVID-19.
These assessments are required for each of the 71 play area sites. With the current resources the council has, it is focussing on how it can safely re-open 12 play parks and will review the re-opening of all the other sites shortly.
As with all outdoor equipment that can be accessed by multiple people, 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.
Government guidance says parents, guardians and carers should sanitise children's hands both before and after using the play equipment.
It is anticipated that the following play area sites will re-open on Monday 13 July:
- Queen’s Drive play area, Exmouth
- Phear Park, Exmouth
- Redgates, Exmouth
- Allhallows, Honiton
- St Mark’s Road, Honiton
- North Street, Axminster
- Foxhill, Axminster
- Lime Kiln, Budleigh Salterton
- Stowford Rise, Sidmouth
- Manstone Recreation Ground, Sidmouth
- Jubilee, Beer
- Land of Canaan, Ottery St Mary
Councillor Geoff Jung Portfolio holder for Coast Countryside and Environment says.
“I am really pleased that following the Government’s decision to reduce COVID-19 Emergency measures we are able to reopen many of our play areas. We are only able to do this following a thorough review and risk assessment of all our sites, and providing extra cleaning, materials and signage to protect the health and wellbeing for all the users.
“There are other playparks and facilities throughout the district run by a community, group, or Parish Council who are also considering opening their facilities and therefore residents need to check locally when their play park is open.”
The latest Government guidance for owners and operators of playgrounds and outdoor gyms is available on this link: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-managing-playgrounds-and-outdoor-gyms/covid-19-guidance-for-managing-playgrounds-and-outdoor-gyms