Leighton Buzzard play areas and outdoor gyms reopen tomorrow with limits on number of users at each site

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Most play areas and outdoor gyms in Leighton Buzzard will reopen from 10am tomorrow (Saturday), although Covid-19 safety measures will be in place to minimise risk to users.

Outdoor playgrounds and gyms were included in the government's list of facilities that would be allowed to open from July 4 if they are safe, as lockdown measures are relaxed across England.

And with the town council's playgrounds having undergone risk assessments, the local authority says it is ready to reopen them, albeit with restrictions in place.

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A spokesman said: "To minimise risk, numbers are limited and hygiene measures must be adhered to.

Outdoor gym equipment at Page's Park was taped off back in MarchOutdoor gym equipment at Page's Park was taped off back in March
Outdoor gym equipment at Page's Park was taped off back in March

"All of our playgrounds and gyms have been fully risk-assessed individually and banners are on display in each playground with the guidance for that specific area. Please take time to check the guidance in full on your arrival at the playground."

The maximum permitted people (including accompanying adults) at each playground are: Adams Bottom 7, Alwins Field 9, Astral Park 9, Danes Field 8, Derwent Road 7, Dimmock Close 4, Draper Way 2, Johnson Drive 2, Linslade Memorial Playing Field (Junior) 14, Linslade Memorial Playing Field (Toddler) 4, Linslade Recreation Ground 10, Mill Road 8, Nicholson Drive 4, Page's Park 10 (currently closed for refurbishment), Parson’s Close Recreation Ground 14, Parson’s Close Recreation Ground beach 8 (currently closed), Parson’s Close Recreation Ground splash and play 10 (currently closed), Ridgley Drive 2, Vandyke Road Playing Field 6, Vimy Road 2, Weston Avenue 6.

All outdoor gym stations are restricted to one person at a time.

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The council spokesman added "We will spray a bleach-free, non-hazardous, non-toxic sanitiser on all equipment once a week, but it is important that all who use our equipment bring their own hygiene equipment and observe the relevant guidelines displayed at that location. Your safety is our priority."

If your local playground is not listed above, it is not one managed by the town council, and may be managed by Central Bedfordshire Council. Examples include play areas at Appenine Way, Nelson Road and Oakley Green.

A Central Beds Council spokesman said: “While we were planning to open play facilities from July 4, following new guidance issued by the Government on June 26, we are now re-assessing what additional control measures are needed before play areas can safely open to the public.

"Until this is complete all Central Bedfordshire Council play areas will remain closed. While we appreciate this will be disappointing to the public, it is important that we control the risk of infection and consider all reasonable precautions before re-opening our facilities.”

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Neighbouring Buckinghamshire Council says it will be gradually reopening outdoor playgrounds from July 4 onwards, and ask that everyone who uses these outdoor areas maintains strict social distancing and good hygiene practice.

A spokesman said: "We anticipate it will take a few days from Saturday for all sites to reopen and they will be operating with clear guidance on how to use the areas and equipment safely.

"Some play areas are managed by the local town or parish council who will make decisions for their own facilities; please check websites before you visit and follow signage in the play areas.

"We know that social distancing can be particularly difficult in a playground setting, so we ask that parents, carers and guardians are aware of the risk and take extra care and responsibility for encouraging handwashing and social distancing as much as possible."

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The Register of Play Inspectors International (RPII) says it is delighted that the government has said that playgrounds and outdoor gyms can open, however it is warning the public that not all facilities will be accessible.

Jon Dalton, Board Member of the RPII, said: “If a playground owner does not have a valid COVID-19 risk assessment in place before this date they will not legally be able to open. We know that after many months of being closed, this will be hugely disappointing to many children, parents and carers, however if a playground is closed, adults and children should not attempt to use or access the equipment.

"The government’s COVID-19 risk assessment covers issues such as identifying the maximum number of users per playground, setting a time limit for users, limiting the number of users for a piece of playground equipment and requesting only one adult accompanying a child."

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