Preparations have been already been made to open facilities safely in line with the guidance following the government announcement that playgrounds and outdoor gyms could open from 4th July. Legal advice has been provided on the published guidance (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-managing-playgrounds-and-outdoor-gyms/covid-19-guidance-for-managing-playgrounds-and-outdoor-gyms) and there are significant implications relating to risk assessment, cleaning and social distancing that have needed to be considered and put in place. The council has a total of 200 playgrounds and outdoor gyms comprising of over 2000 pieces of individual equipment located within its parks and green spaces and this provides significant challenges in terms of scale and risk prevention. It is therefore not possible to open all playgrounds at this stage, however, Parks and Countryside have been in discussion with Civic Enterprise Leeds (CEL) to put in place enhanced cleaning regimes at a limited number of sites which reopened on Thursday 23rd July as follows:
- The playground at the Arium
- The playground and adventure playground at Lotherton
- The playground at Middleton Park
- The two playgrounds at Roundhay Park along with outdoor gym equipment.
- The playground at Temple Newsam
Signage has been put in place to remind users about social distancing, hygiene, not eating food or drink and limiting numbers including on relevant pieces of equipment. If the playground or equipment is busy then people are also asked to be patient to enable social distancing but the playgrounds and equipment will not be supervised so this will rely on people acting responsibly. Please be aware that in some cases it will be necessary for example to remove some swing seats to ensure social distancing.
The government has not provided any funding to provide enhanced cleaning and there are not sufficient resources available to implement across all other playgrounds and equipment citywide. As a consequence of this the council will be writing to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government requesting that the guidance is reviewed in light of the practical implications of delivering this guidance for those who manage a significant level of municipal playgrounds that invariably have no site based staff presence, over a wide geographic distribution”