Wednesday, 21 October 2020

Play areas to re-open with covid regulations

GORING’S two playgrounds are set to re-open.

The parish council, which manages the facilities at Bourdillon Field, off Wallingford Road, and Gardiner recreation ground, off Upper Red Cross Road, has agreed in principle to let children use them again.

It is yet to confirm a date but says it will be after repairs have been carried out and new signage installed explaining the new rules under which the equipment can safely be used.

The measures will include restrictions on the number of people who can use a play area at once and a requirement for children to use hand sanitiser and observe social distancing to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The council will also agree the reasons why it would close the playgrounds again, such as a rise in the national infection rate or evidence that people are using them unsafely.

Councils have been free to re-open playgrounds for months but Goring chose not to, saying the government guidelines were unclear.

Its insurers also warned that a new risk assessment was needed every time the national guidelines were revised.

Some residents criticised the decision on social media, pointing out that playgrounds in neighbouring villages had re-opened, as had those managed by South Oxfordshire District Council.

Members of the council agreed it was time for rethink at a meeting earlier this month.

Some councillors pointed out that children faced the lowest risk of dying from covid-19, although they can still pass it on to older and more vulnerable family members.

Councillor Lawrie Reavill said: “The majority of local playgrounds are now open, although there has been a wide range of interpretations of the guidelines.

“It has been difficult to work out what the true danger of virus transmission is. Much has changed in the past month and will continue to change rapidly, with a possible spike coming.”

He said the continued closure of the playgrounds was a matter of some concern to parents who felt they would like their children to use them.

“There have been some comments to the effect that not having an outlet for play has adverse psychological effects and that this is as important as the relatively low risk they encounter in using play equipment,” said Cllr Reavill.

“We need to keep this under permanent review at every meeting so that we can keep up with a rapidly changing situation.”

Councillor Bryan Urbick said: “I would propose that we re-open them with some very specific provisos.

“This is a novel virus and I agree that we would need to keep reviewing it.”

Councillor David Brooker said: “I agree with re-opening but I do worry that some people will just carry on doing whatever they want.

“Someone has got to be responsible for spot-checking that the rules are being followed.”

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