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Playgrounds can reopen in California with some COVID-19 restrictions

Adeline Hernandez approaches swing sets at Ryan Bonaminio Park in Riverside that are closed in April.
Adeline Hernandez seems perplexed by the yellow caution tape as she approaches the closed-off swing sets at Ryan Bonaminio Park in Riverside in April.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Outdoor playgrounds in California have been given the green light for reopening six months after the state shuttered parks, campgrounds and public recreational areas over COVID-19 concerns.

The California Department of Public Health announced new guidance Monday to allow outdoor playground spaces to reopen in all counties, regardless of tier status.

Like every allowance from the state, however, the choice to move forward with a reopening is up to local jurisdictions. In Los Angeles County, for example, the Public Health Department and Board of Supervisors are determining timing for that allowance. The new guidelines do not apply to indoor playgrounds, which remain closed in Tier 1 and Tier 2 of the state’s color-coded four-part blueprint for reopening.

To use the playgrounds, children and visitors 2 or older must wear face masks and maintain a 6-foot separation between households. Facilities operators will be expected to determine the maximum limit at a playground. Visits are expected to be limited to 30 minutes.

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Additionally, childcare programs, schools and youth groups will not be allowed to use the playgrounds when they are open to the public. Those groups can use the space if the facility offers reservations for exclusive use.

California counties need to show seven or fewer new coronavirus cases per 100,000 residents each day for two weeks to see some restrictions lifted. That’s a high bar for some.

The decision comes roughly two weeks after two dozen lawmakers pressed Gov. Gavin Newsom to reopen outdoor playgrounds, an effort led by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego).

“Playgrounds don’t make money ... but they keep our kids happy and healthy, physically and mentally,” she tweeted earlier this month. “We need as much focus on our kids as we have had on adult recreation (bars and salons.)”

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Gonzalez credited the idea for the effort’s launch to a report from KPBS-TV.


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