Outdoor Playgrounds In California Can Now Open
Speaker 1: 00:00 If the state forgot that playgrounds had been closed for the last six months, KPBS reminded them. The result is playgrounds are reopening here in San Diego and across the state, regardless of the COVID tear. Each County is in kids and families are celebrating and epidemiologists say playing outdoors in a playground should be safer than many indoor activities. Joining me is KPBS investigative reporter, Claire Tresor and Claire. Welcome. And thank you so much. It was your original story that got people wondering why there were no plans for reopening playgrounds. What brought that story to your attention? Speaker 2: 00:40 Uh, I have a three year old at home who was frequently reminding me that playgrounds were closed. The park by our house, you know, was shut down for a little bit at the beginning of the pandemic and then open back up. But everywhere we went, uh, there was caution tape and even a roadblock sign, like chain linked to the top of the slide at our park. And so, you know, after it seemed like, okay, you know, they're opening things, they're opening this, they're opening that why aren't they opening playgrounds? And he, he was asking and I said, you know what, I'm going to find out. Um, and I think that was actually his first understanding of sort of what I do for work, that I ask people questions and find out. So, uh, I owe it all to him, this story. Speaker 1: 01:27 So you found out that there were no plans in the works to reopen playground Speaker 2: 01:33 Pretty much. Um, you know, we had the tier system, we had, these indoor activities can be open when we reached this tier, this tier and nowhere on there was playgrounds. And so I asked the state department of public health and they said, basically parks, when they reopened parks, they issued new guidelines and those guidelines included that playgrounds were closed, but that meant that there would never be a time that they would reopen because parks were open, but in those opening of parks, playgrounds were closed. And, you know, I kept asking saying, is there a point where this will change and they kind of wouldn't really answer that. Um, and so, yeah, that's, that's what I found. Speaker 1: 02:14 What did medical experts tell you about the safety of allowing playgrounds to open up again? Well, Speaker 2: 02:20 I think that, you know, early on when we didn't understand as much about COVID-19, there was more concern about surfaces, where people were, you know, spraying their groceries with Lysol and wiping things down. Um, and as, as we've learned more, we found that it's really spread through breathing, talking, being inside. Um, and so I interviewed a epidemiologist, Rebecca fielding Miller who's at UCLA. And she said, you know, now that we know more, it really shouldn't be that indoor activities are open, but then playgrounds are closed. So here's what she told me. Speaker 1: 02:56 If it's safe to go to a restaurant that's serving beer, you can hang out inside Speaker 2: 03:00 And drink with your friends and linger for several hours. It is certainly safe for your kid to go down and slide. Okay. So that's pretty clear. Now your story got the attention of assembly woman, Lorena Gonzales, and what happened after that? Right. So I asked her, um, you know, do you know, is there anything happening at the state? And she said, you're right. And it was especially important to her because, uh, she represents, you know, parts of the region that a lot of people live in apartments. Maybe don't even have a backyard or a place to go outside. And so those playgrounds are even more important for those families. And so she wrote a letter right away to governor Gavin Newsome, asking, not for him to reopen them, but just to have a plan, you know, what's the plan for reopening. And then she again, wrote another letter and had it signed by a bipartisan coalition of state representatives to the governor. Speaker 2: 03:51 And, uh, about a week after that, uh, some new guidance came down. So even though playgrounds are reopening, they won't be returning to prepare endemic normal. So what's the new normal, what are the new playground rules and regulations, right? So, um, there's, there's a few of them, everyone, age two and up must wear a face mask, which I know people who don't have kids think that that sounds crazy, but I promise you, my three-year-old wears a face mask all day at preschool and he's fine with it. Um, and then different households should keep six feet apart. And, um, if a playground is too crowded and you think, okay, you know, we can't really be on this and stay six feet apart, then you should come back later. And to go along with that, they're saying that families should limit their visits to 30 minutes. If there are other people there to give people a chance and then no eating or drinking on the playground, um, and wash hands before and after, and then obviously parents or caregivers need to be supervising children to make sure they follow these rules. Speaker 2: 04:52 And then, um, there's also a list of rules for the people who provide the playground. So whether it's the city or the County or whatever it is, and that's just increasing the cleaning, um, they want them to provide hand washing stations or sanitizer, um, and to post the maximum number of children allowed to help people kind of make those decisions about social distancing and then the max maximum occupancy of each place structure for those same reasons. Well, now mayor Faulkner says that all San Diego playgrounds should be open by this Friday. And I wanna thank KPBS investigative reporter, Claire chaga, sir. Thank you, Claire. Thank you.