Home > News > Play areas to remain closed

Play areas to remain closed

3 July 2020

Share this article:share on twitter share on facebook

Playgrounds in Woodbridge managed by Woodbridge Town Council (Elmhurst Park, Fen Meadow and Kingston Field) will continue to remain closed.

Although the Government has announced that outdoor playgrounds and gyms could reopen from the 4th July, we have taken advice on the subsequent detailed guidance and come to the conclusion that we cannot fully meet those stringent, and necessary, health requirements to keep users safe.

The guidance states owners and operators have discretion over when to open and may decide to keep areas closed should they feel they are not able to facilitate their safe usage. Owners and operators should do everything reasonably practicable to minimise risks recognising that it is not possible to completely eliminate the risk of COVID-19. It is public knowledge that children are at lower risk of developing covid-19 but can spread the virus.

What are the hazards? Risk of potential COVID-19 transmission to users of the equipment such as children, parents, guardians and carers, as well as staff tasked with the maintenance or cleaning of equipment and play spaces. 

In summary, some of the measures suggested in the guidance are:-

a) Restricting access by using staff to control numbers or having a pre-booked ticketing system
b) Restricting the numbers of children on any one piece of apparatus at any one time
c) Restricting adult access to one adult per child
d) Restricting the time allowed in the playground
e) FREQUENT cleaning of all high-contact surfaces in the playground

As a Council we have undertaken our risk assessments based on our ability (or inability) to put these measures in place and agreed that, until such time as this guidance changes, the playgrounds will remain shut to prevent the spread of COVID-19, which remains a deadly virus. 

Our Insurers, Zurich, have advised that unless we can adhere to the government guidance then we would be invalidating our insurance cover, as detailed below (email from Zurich to Woodbridge Town Council)

“In the event of a claim arising we will ask for copies of the risk assessments, as we will use these to defend a claim on your behalf. I cannot stress how important it is to follow the government’s advice though. If you do not, then there is a potential that claims could be refused as you would have breached the reasonable care clause in the policy.

It is worth saying, your risk assessments may lead you to make the decision not to open certain facilities, as they may prove you cannot ensure you provide a safe environment. If this is the outcome of the risk assessment, you must keep them closed, because to open them would invalidate your cover under the policy.”

These are strange and difficult times and we must follow the Government guidance to keep our residents and visitors safe. As and when the Government relaxes the guidance we will review the possibility of reopening, but we do not expect that to be soon.