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Playground usage surges during second lockdown

Playgrounds across England will see a 31 percentage increase in their usage throughout the second lockdown, according to new research1 from the Register of Play Inspectors International – the UK’s governing body for examining, accrediting, and certificating playground inspectors.

While indoor soft-plays, swimming pools, leisure centres and other indoor family entertainment destinations have been ordered to close, outdoor playgrounds are allowed to remain open throughout the lockdown period. This is a contrast to the first lockdown where all playgrounds were closed.

According to new research commissioned by the RPII, a further 30 per cent of people with children or responsible for looking after children in England visited their local playground over the first lockdown weekend, and 36 per cent are set to visit throughout the rest of the November and December lockdown period.

Despite one in five (20 per cent) of those that visited a playground last weekend being concerned about how busy it was for the potential risk of spreading COVID, almost three in four (71 per cent) of parents are set to visit again during the next few weeks of lockdown.

It’s indoor leisure and entertainment that will bear the brunt economically of the lockdown as the research reveals that 16 per cent of those planning a playground visit  were planning to do so because indoor leisure facilities such as a swimming pool, entertainment centre or indoor soft-play and cinemas were forced to close.

The RPII is calling for all parents and carers to enjoy playground visits safely during this lockdown surge, and for all playground owners and operators to ensure that their risk assessments have been updated to include this proposed heavy use, and that inspections are up to date.

Jon Dalton, Board Director of the RPII, said: “We fully support the government decision to allow playgrounds to remain open during this second lockdown period. Playgrounds are a hugely valuable resource that offer so many benefits to our younger population, and even more so at a time when so many other leisure opportunities have been forced to shut their doors. It is important however that playground operators recognise that there is going to be a surge in the use of these areas that we would not normally expect at this time of year, as our research supports. Playground operators will have a risk assessment in place that would traditionally recognise a drop in usage at this time of year and their inspection frequencies would be reduced in line with this, however during these unprecedented times we want to make all playground operators aware that this is not likely to be the case this year, and we are therefore recommending that risk assessments are updated and inspection frequencies are suitable for the anticipated levels of use that we now expect to see.”

RPII’s guidance for visiting playgrounds during the second lockdown

  1. Talk to your children before you visit about the possibility that the playground may be very busy, particularly during weekends and after school, and consider visiting an alternative playground or returning at a less busy time.
  2. Ensure you supervise your children, particularly the younger ones when using busy playground structures.
  3. Don’t allow your children to climb on busy playground structures as overcrowding on the structures can result in accidents.
  4. Wash your hands and your children’s hands before and after visiting. Take hand sanitiser with you and consider taking a bottle of water for if your children’s hands get covered in mud. Ensure your children are using hand sanitiser frequently.
  5. Look out for and pay attention to signage / instructions provided from the playground owner / operator
  6. Follow and adhere to all current government advice in addition to the above guidance.

The RPII is the official body for examining, accrediting and certificating indoor, outdoor and inflatable play inspectors.

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