With the opening of playgrounds on the 4th July there has been some confusion over the practicability of the guidelines issued by Government for their opening. In order to try and resolve this confusion, a number of national bodies with interests in play, NALC (National Association of Local Councils), SLCC (The Society of Local Council Clerks), The Play Safety Forum (PSF), Association of Play Industries (API) & The Register of Play Inspectors International (RPII) met with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) to discuss the current government guidance.
All involved were delighted by the enthusiasm shown for the provision of play, with it having huge mental and physical benefits to young people particularly at a time when their abilities to enjoy play outside of their homes have been curtailed during the current crisis.
Naturally, many play operators (including local authorities, parish and town councils and national bodies like the Forestry Commission and National Trust) are cautious about opening these facilities in readiness for 4th July. During the discussion the MHCLG made it clear that the guidance for managing playgrounds and outdoor gyms issued on the 26th June is of a general nature and should be treated as a guide, as outlined in their guidance. It is a matter for each operator to individually risk assess each of their play facilities in accordance with the HSE recommendation on promoting a balanced approach to children’s play and leisure and make informed decisions about the viability of reopening them.
The Play Safety Forum and the Children’s Play Policy Forum recommend that operators in England follow the guidelines issued by the Association of Play Industries API Guidelines when planning, preparing and opening the places for which they are responsible, where children play.