State officials said Wednesday that playgrounds could remain open in California under orders to stay at home, quietly changing the original lock rules announced last week, and that will certainly be easier for many parents.
Playgrounds were not originally allowed to remain open based on the latest home orders when coronavir virus cases rebounded in California and across the country, to the grief of parents who were annoyed that seemingly riskier activities, including indoor shopping, were still allowed.
“Playgrounds can remain open to promote physically segregated personal health and wellness through outdoor exercise,” the state’s new directive said Wednesday. “Playgrounds in schools that remain open for personal education and that are not accessible to the general public may remain open and follow the guidelines of schools and school programs.”
The playgrounds were closed for seven months during their first stay at home before reopening in mid-October, with new rules including requirements for masks, social distance and time limits.
They were open for six short weeks before they were banned again by government officials in a new closure order issued last week – a move that harassed not only parents but also city officials and even public health experts who say there is no data or evidence to link playgrounds. with the spread of the virus.
Maria Cortez lives in a small apartment at the intersection of Turk and Hyde streets in Tenderloin, right next to Turk and Hyde Mini Park. He took his two 7- and 5-year-olds to the park every day — he felt it was the only safe place nearby to walk around and breathe fresh air.
“Parks mean a lot to me and my family,” Cortez said. “They are more important now than ever because they help the well-being and state of mind of children.”
He said he felt embarrassed when the closures were announced last week, especially because Turkey and Hyde Mini Park employ caretakers who are there to make sure their area is safe and people follow social distance policies.
“I didn’t really understand the regulations and the meaning of park closures when the parks are outdoors,” Cortez said.
Just before noon on Wednesday, the mini-park was reopened. “We felt a lot of excitement and happiness,” Cortez said.
Dr. Monica Gandhi, a UC San Francisco infectious disease specialist, said the decision to close playgrounds last week could have eroded some of the trust that San Francisco and public health officials had during the pandemic.
“I’m very happy with the reversal,” she said. “It will rebuild that trust. This will help revive confidence in the governor’s constraints – when something clearly data-centric has turned around. “
I’m glad to hear that the state has updated the Stay at Home order, allowing outdoor playgrounds to open. Outdoor activity is important for all of our physical and mental health, especially for children.
We are now updating our policies and the SF playgrounds will open tomorrow.
– London Breed (@LondonBreed) December 9, 2020
In a statement posted on Twitter, the Mayor of San Francisco, London Breed, welcomed the new guidelines and said, “Outdoor activity is important for all of our physical and mental health, especially for children.”
“I agree with that decision, and it’s important for people to be able to move around safely and be outdoors,” Breed said. “But we’ll definitely continue to avoid meeting people you don’t live with and wear a mask.”
The city’s playgrounds will officially reopen on Thursday after San Francisco’s amended health plan takes effect.
However, Phil Ginsburg, CEO of San Francisco Recreation and Park, said some playgrounds will reopen on Wednesday, stressing that parents “must abide by the rules and capacity limits. We want these spaces to remain open to our children, but now it’s up to us, the adults, to do the right thing and take the rules and restrictions seriously, ”he said.
“Kids need victory,” Ginsburg added.
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Michael Williams is a fellow at the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @michaeldamianw