The public spoke, and state officials listened.
Last week, Covid-restrictions were tightened in several counties across the state after Governor Newsom announced a Regional Stay-At-Home order. The order, now implemented in Southern California, San Joaquin Valley, Greater Sacramento and many Bay Area counties, forced the shutdown of many businesses and recreational activities, including playgrounds.
Just this Wednesday, not even a week after its implementation, the stay-at-home order was amended to allow playgrounds to reopen after backlash from parents and even some public health experts. Many parents found the order to be somewhat counterintuitive, permitting activities that appear to be far riskier, like indoor shopping.
Playgrounds are a necessary refuge for children during these difficult months as communities navigate the pandemic and, in some areas, they’re the only safe spaces for kids to play outside. In an interview with SF Chronicle, spokeswoman for the California Department of Public Health Ali Bay said that the decision to reopen playgrounds came after hearing these concerns from the community.
“We encourage all children and families to get outdoors during this challenging time for exercise, fresh air and good mental health while avoiding sites where people congregate and where social distancing is not possible,” she said on Wednesday.
The regional order now states that playgrounds can remain open “to facilitate physically distanced personal health and wellness through outdoor exercise.” Schools that remain open can also keep their playgrounds open provided they are not accessible by the general public and they follow guidance for schools and school-based programs (PDF).
Mayor Breed, who announced San Francisco’s voluntary opt-in to the stay-at-home order last week, says county playgrounds will be open starting today (Thursday, December 10).
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