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Council: Playgrounds could close if parents don’t follow Covid safety advice

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Parents are being warned not to congregate and observe Covid safety precautions in playgrounds after a number of reports raised concerns in Richmond recently.

Richmond Council urged parents to avoid playgrounds if they are busy and warned them not to mix households or congregate with other adults on site, after they said a number of residents had voiced their concerns over the possible risks of spreading Covid-19.

Citing the importance of keeping playgrounds open so that children have a space to play and exercise in outside, the council issued a statement strongly urging parents in the borough to behave in line with coronavirus safety measures and physically distance themselves from others.

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“Councils are encouraged to keep playgrounds open, so that children can use them during their daily exercise.

“However, over the past few weeks there have been many reports in Richmond upon Thames of large groups of adults congregating at the playgrounds whilst supervising their children – meeting with other families, not social distancing or being considerate of any COVID safety measures.

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“If people continue to gather in mass at playgrounds, the Council may be forced to close them temporarily,” a spokesperson warned.

The statement meanwhile issued a list of bullet points aimed at parents and discouraging any breach of lockdown measures at playgrounds in the borough.

It included advice such as:

• If the playground is busy, come back when there are fewer people

• If you are supervising your child/children – don’t gather with others from outside of your household

• Don’t spend hours at the playground – let others enjoy the fun

Cllr Julia Neden-Watts, who chairs the environment, sustainability, culture and sports committee for Richmond Council, echoed the suggestion that playgrounds could be forced to close if safety advice is not followed:

“I know how important playgrounds are for young children’s mental and physical wellbeing during the pandemic.

“We really don’t want to close our playgrounds, but our concern is that as the new strain of the virus is spreading at a worrying rate, they’re becoming less safe in terms of transmission.

“This is because too many people of all ages are congregating and socialising in them. It’s not just about the children but the sheer number of adults who gather closely together while their children play.

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“Therefore, I urge parents and carers to use a bit more common sense. If the playground is busy – come back another time.

“We don’t want to discourage residents and families from continuing to go outside for their once a day exercise. But people should not use this as an excuse to gather with other households,” she said.

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