Amid the pandemic, LA parents smoke in closed playgrounds


Sydney Beckman ran under the yellow warning tape surrounding the empty playground equipment and folded her tiny body over a swing.

The 2-year-old tried to open the gate to block the big green slide in Anderson Park in Redondo Beach, but his father pulled it away – he tried to explain that the playground was closed. he joked, “they have to sneak back” under the guise of darkness. “

“Look at him! He looks so sad,” Zachary Beckman said, laughing at his tiny defiant act.

But turning the playground into a fun-free zone angered his 38-year-old abbot in a way that belied his laughter.

Los Angeles County closed outdoor playgrounds this week as part of restrictions that have never seen a seizure in cases of coronavirus. Many parents are confused by a series of official dictatorships – playgrounds and personal schooling are closed, but shopping malls are open to shops full of customers – a line crossing the sandbox.

“Parents really do it the worst,” Beckman said. “I understand the need for security, but the lack of contradictions and logic is very frustrating.”

A few meters away, three adults played on the open tennis court. No one wore a mask.

Nine tired months later, many Californians entered the “why is it closed while it is open” phase of the pandemic.

And as new restrictions come into effect, those who have complied with the rules say it is finding it increasingly difficult to accept orders from politicians who don’t seem to always take their own advice into account.

Angry parents pointed to Governor Gavin Newsom’s attendance at a birthday dinner at a French laundromat in Napa Valley, even as he warned of Thanksgiving dinner gatherings; Sheila Kuehl, LA County Superintendent, is having dinner at Santa Monica for hours after she voted to ban outdoor dining last week; and state representatives flew to Hawaii last month to intertwine with interest groups while health officials discouraged the trip.

“Economic differences in compliance are obscene,” Beckman said. “Obviously, California is run by the rich, not the family. Bars have been opened in front of the playgrounds – how is that?

Many are contemplating county decisions that will allow outdoor public playgrounds to be closed and outdoor dining banned, while many indoor businesses will remain open with limited capacity – including shopping malls, tattoo and massage parlors and hairdressers.

While children’s jungle gyms and monkey bars have been deemed too dangerous, tennis courts, golf courses, beaches, skating parks and hiking trails remain open. So are the outdoor gym classes with sweaty adults.

Playgrounds emerged as the center of rage. The county did not publicly associate the coronavirus epidemics with the playgrounds, which closed in March and only reopened in the first week of October. School playgrounds and kindergartens remain open.

“I know the playgrounds were really somehow not really understood by many, and [their closure] again, it causes a lot of difficulty for families, ”Barbara Ferrer, Los Angeles County Director of Public Health, admitted this week.

Margaret Foss, who walks several times a week at the Van Nuys-Sherman Oaks Recreation Center, said the park always has a lot of adult exercise and people playing football and basketball, with few masks visible.

“Are they closing restaurants, but letting people hang out in public without collateral?” he said. “Football is a contact sport. Basketball is a contact sport. Strange.

The new restrictions will have the effect of curbing the increase in COVID-19 cases during the holiday season, which has renewed fears about how the state’s health care system is handling new patient crashes.

Nevertheless, the rules are not as strict as they were at the beginning of the pandemic, when non-core businesses were closed – along with hiking trails and beaches.

Ferrer said health officials “went back and forth” for many days before issuing the latest regulations on how to deal with local park department reports of crowding, children playing without masks and difficulties in disinfecting playground equipment.

Black Friday shoppers are waiting in line

Shopping malls and malls are crowded despite capacity constraints. Above are Black Friday shoppers at Citadel Outlets in Commerce on Nov. 27.

(Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)

Tara Kirk Sell, a researcher at the Johns Hopkins Health Security Center who focused on risk communication and misinformation during the epidemic, said health officials “need to be prepared for a good answer as to why these measures should be put in place” and the science behind it.

“If there are too many restrictions and the public doesn’t understand and see the reason, it can make them stop listening completely,” Sell said. “Trust,” once it’s gone, it’s gone forever. Public health really needs to communicate well in the coming months as we introduce vaccines. “

Regarding the closure of playgrounds, officials should be reminded that parents and children “need some kind of outlet.”

In a telephone interview, Sell’s 4 and 6-year-olds could be heard playing in the background. With her husband, they both work from home in Baltimore, and the kids practically go to school. They don’t have a yard, so they go to a playground every day, in a mask, to remove them from their screen.

In the middle of September two dozen legislators in a letter urging Newsom to reopen public playgrounds, rejecting their “indefinite closure” and disproportionate damage to low-income, low-yard communities. They reopened in two weeks.

This week, Earvin “Magic” Johnson of South LA entertained his 2-year-old daughter, Valeria, with a skateboard and chased her through the grass with Oswaldo Romero. 25-year-old Romero, who lives in Watts and drives Lyfter overnight, said he had no yard and was disappointed that both public and McDonald’s playgrounds had been closed.

“I need a place to take my child,” he said. – Active. You have to play.

An infant swings on a playground that is taped down

The 2-year-old Sydney Beckman will play on a swing at Anderson Park in Redondo Beach on Nov. 30.

(Hailey Branson-Potts / Los Angeles Times)

According to Oswaldo, his wife’s aunt fell ill with COVID-19 earlier this year, but recovered after two weeks. Although he said he understands concerns about the virus, he believes officials are “exaggerating security measures” and that “there is no reason to close areas reserved for children.”

A 37-year-old sales associate at Westfield Santa Anita, Arcadia, said he was saddened to see many children in the mall. The woman, who spoke anonymously for fear of losing her job, said the mall apparently exceeded the allowable 25% capacity (until the week this capacity was reduced to 20%) and that she was trying to find county health department. He worked on Black Friday; the parking lot is full.

“It doesn’t make sense,” he said. – Do you close the parks where you are outside, but want to keep the malls open? If you want to open shopping malls and allow people to shop, open schools. … it’s all about the money.

Stores restrict customers, but corridors get stuck in people in long lines. Tables and chairs are gone, but people can eat and drink without masks.

In Highland Park, Laura Mannino, a 41-year-old television writer, had a hard time explaining to her 5-year-old son why she sees “the police tape covering a space where she attended birthday parties and where she goes every day.”

Harry, who practically goes to LAUSD Kindergarten, thought the coronavirus only lived on playground equipment because he only saw it torn apart. When her favorite playground finally reopened, her mother did well with her new rules: Wear a mask. Disinfect your hands before and after playing. Do not concentrate in the pipe slide with other children.

“If our state, city, and county can put together huge testing sites and programs, we can certainly make basic information about playground security messaging,” Mannino said. “People say playgrounds are very touching areas. Then clean the playgrounds. The product is good to the touch in the store; we do not see the county putting a police tape around the melons.

In her Facebook group for moms, parents have tipped out their anger over recent decisions.

“We’re conscientious,” Mannino said. “We follow the rules. But I see more and more parents disappointed. They take it personally because we are very exhausted.

In interviews this week, echoing the voices of the other parents, he added, “Let my child swing.