‘Too demanding’: many soft-play areas to remain closed

A young boy explores an indoor soft play area. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

A young boy explores an indoor soft play area. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Many soft play areas in Norfolk are set to remain closed, despite getting the Government go-ahead to reopen from Saturday.

The popular family facilities have been waiting for five months to find out when they can welcome children back, having closed when lockdown started in March.

But some said welcoming back the public under current government guidance was just “too demanding”, and could not be sorted out at such short notice.

Ben Marshall, general manager at Wroxham Barns, said: “The key thing to stress is that indoor soft play can be re-opened safely, but to be given a single day’s notice to implement the guidance was not what the industry deserved.“At Wroxham, it’s not practical for us to re-open under this guidance. The government has said soft play centres can re-open at 40pc capacity with one-way systems and other precautionary measures in place.

“But we don’t have the resources, staff or time to enforce this, and clean all the equipment down six times a day. It’s too demanding for us.”

He added: “Besides, we’re doing fine as it is running our outdoor activities. It wouldn’t be profitable to open at such reduced capacity. It’s week three of the six-week holidays anyway and it’s all a bit late now.

“I feel for my colleagues in the industry: we’ve been forgotten a bit during the course of the pandemic.”The same goes for Play Stax in Gorleston, Playland at Wells and Hyper Soft Play at Horsford, whose doors will remain shut for the time being.

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Playland said it had “no plans to re-open just yet” but that updates would be provided via social media, while Play Stax said the announcement had “come as a surprise” and that staff were still on furlough and refurbishment work was under way.

Hulabaloos children’s centre in Wymondham, however, said it was excited for “lift off” at its premises, and posted on Facebook that it would be offering free entry between 10.30am and 4pm on the first day of re-opening on Saturday.

Hyper soft play area in Horsford. Credit: Bill Ewan

Hyper soft play area in Horsford. Credit: Bill Ewan - Credit: Archant

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In a post, the centre said: “If you haven’t heard, last night we were given the green light to re-open and we cannot wait to welcome you back.”

Some of the measures in place to ensure re-opening at Hulabaloos include temperature checks, mandatory face coverings for everyone over 11 years old, compliance with track and trace, and the removal of soft toys and balls from the ball-pit.

Soft play centre. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto/Sinenkiy

Soft play centre. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto/Sinenkiy - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

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