Playgrounds are re-opening – and here’s what parents need to know

Children in some parts of the UK will soon be allowed to play in outdoor playgrounds. Find out what dates they're opening – and what experts are saying about keeping your child safe as they play

boy on playground slide

Children’s outdoor playgrounds are being allowed to re-open in many parts of the UK, after a long closure due to coronavirus. And that’s wonderful news for all of us with children who’ve been missing the slides and swings and climbing frames in our local park.

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But before we all rush out for first go on the roundabout, safety experts at the Register of Play Inspectors (the body that oversees playground inspectors) are warning parents to be mindful of 2 keys things:

  • Don’t go into a playground before you’re sure it’s been officially re-opened
  • Remember that the playground’s been closed for 3 months and may not have had a safety inspection in that time
We are pleased that the government has announced... the re-opening of outdoor playgrounds but we are aware that some owners and operators have halted safety inspections of playgrounds during the lockdown period
Jon Dalton, Register of Play Inspectors International (RPII)

“We’re expecting playgrounds to be very heavily used,” Jon adds, “especially with the warm weather we are currently experiencing, so it is vital that playgrounds are thoroughly inspected to ensure a satisfactory level of safety is in place. Owners have a responsibility to open playgrounds safely.”

What date are children’s playgrounds opening?

This depends on the current restrictions where you live. 

So, when my local children’s playground opens, what safety precautions do I need to take?

The RPII, says Jon, is particularly keen to for parents to be careful of any playground features that may have been secured to put them out of use.

Please do not unravel any swing seats or cables that have been secured to put them out of use. This is something that must be done safely by the playground's owner or operator
Jon Dalton, Register of Play Inspectors International (RPII)

Other important safety tips include:

  • Do not remove any plastic fencing or other temporary barriers to the playground that may have been put up during lockdown.
  • Follow the current social-distancing guidelines when you’re in the playground. and encourage your children to do the same.
  • If the playground is busy, consider coming back at a later time. Talk to your children about this possibility before you set out.
  • Wash your hands and your children’s hands before and after visiting the playground.
  • Take hand sanitiser with you – and consider taking a bottle of water to use to clean your children’s hands if they get covered in mud or sand. Ensure your children are using hand sanitiser frequently.

What if my local playground isn’t open?

It’s not compulsory for playgrounds to open once the government says they can. So even if you live in an area where children’s playgrounds can now re-open, it’s up to your local council or – whoever owns and operates the playground –  how quickly they actually open each playground up.

If the children’s playground near you hasn’t opened, it may well be that the operators are taking some time to spruce it up, remove  temporary barriers and make sure it safe for children to play in.

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If the playground facility you visit has not yet officially been opened, please do not attempt to use or access the equipment or the playground area
Jon Dalton, Register of Play Inspectors International (RPII)

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