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Reopening date for 81 play areas is announced

PUBLISHED: 12:54 17 July 2020 | UPDATED: 12:54 17 July 2020

Norwich City Council's play areas have been shut since March. Picture: BRITTANY WOODMAN

Norwich City Council's play areas have been shut since March. Picture: BRITTANY WOODMAN

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Play areas in Norwich will be reopened next week, so long as the number of coronavirus cases recorded in the city stays low over the weekend.

Matthew Packer, Norwich City Council cabinet member for health and wellbeing. Pic: Labour Party.Matthew Packer, Norwich City Council cabinet member for health and wellbeing. Pic: Labour Party.

While the government had given the green light for councils to reopen earlier this month, Norwich City Council took the decision to delay the reopening of the play areas which it runs.

Council bosses said they wanted to be sure the 81 play areas could be re-opened safely, a delay had led to criticism from some parents.

However, after a review, the council has announced the play areas will start to be reopened again from next week, so long as coronavirus cases in Norwich remain low.

Matthew Packer, cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: “Firstly, I would like to thank everyone for their patience and for helping us to keep Norwich safe.

“This pandemic has affected our everyday lives in ways we couldn’t have imagined.

“Trying to explain to little ones why they couldn’t enjoy their normal activities, and ones that play such an important role in their development, has been difficult for all parents and guardians.

“I appreciate that the closure of play areas has been challenging for families.

“Over the past two weeks we have: been carefully working through the government guidance and its implications; had detailed conversations with our contractors; looked at the best practice learned from other councils; and inspected our 1,700 pieces of equipment across 81 play areas.

“We have come to the view that we will open our playgrounds next week, if the numbers of reported local cases remain low this weekend.

“I know that our residents will follow the guidance, such as maintaining a good social distance and practising good hygiene, and will continue to act in the responsible way they have been doing throughout this crisis.

“We will keep the opening of our playgrounds under review.”

Due to the number of playgrounds and work required, the council says they will be reopened gradually in a phased way, with all open by Thursday, July 23.

Suzanne Meredith, Norfolk’s deputy director of public health, said on Friday that there had been fewer than 20 new cases of coronavirus in the county over the past two weeks.


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