With the announcement on 11/05/20 for the progression to Level 2 restrictions for Covid-19, the area of playgrounds is still noted in media releases today as an area where further information will be provided. In the meantime, parks agencies have progressed to making arrangements from their earlier planning, in anticipation of playground reopening to be the higher profile issue for communities and the main signal that parks have reopened for business.
A distillation of what New Zealand Parks Agencies are doing with playgrounds:
some councils not doing any cleaning at all, noting
science reported on the toll of the elements on Covid-19 and the reported duration of the virus on various surfaces
time lapsing between cleaning and potential reintroduction of the virus back to the surfaces by ongoing playground access
most agencies are bringing forward a one-off and as-scheduled quarterly ‘deep clean/sanitize/wipe clean’ focusing on internalised areas (non UV penetrating) or generally having all play and fitness equipment given the equivalent of a public toilet ‘deep clean/sanitize/wipe clean’’ prior to reopening (With a mix of bleaching/ anti-viral and misting products commonly used in bio-hazard areas). Often the specification for a playground faecal, sharps related or fluid incident is sufficient to be implemented (but for the whole playground). Overall, specific regard to workers’ PPE and Health and Safety planning to a biohazard standard is a priority concern.
Completing a safety inspection for the play equipment in total is fit for reopening/ reattaching some deliberately removed features. When staff are onsite undertake the signage removal (L3 & 4 signs and tape removal) and installation of new signs for L2. Anecdotally, warning information has attracted souveniring and may not still be there.
New signage agencies are using a base of general messaging for Level 2:
*Users should be advised:
To wash and dry their hands or use hand sanitiser before and afterwards (you may wish to consider supplying hand sanitizer as appropriate)
not to touch their face, cough and sneeze into elbow
if they have cold or flu symptoms to stay off the equipment
Other official information:
PAMG understands Local Government New Zealand’s direction to LG CEO’s was to be for Level 2:
Council-owned sports facilities e.g. clubrooms open if they can operate safely and councils have adequate assurances of COVID-19 best practice messaging to public re physical distancing
Below facilities open subject to council satisfaction - sufficient measures are in place to re messages about physical distancing
Parks open. With messaging re social distancing
Associated carparks open
Playgrounds & exercise equipment open with warning signs
Public toilets open with extra cleaning
Full urban and regional park ranger service operating – with COVID19 risk management practices in place
Scheduled maintenance and capital programme
- Stand up planned capital programme dependent on:
Supply chain (availability)
H&S plan (ability to maintain distance and hygiene, tracking)
- Limited work groups on sites to limited risk and allow tracking
Sport New Zealand
Playgrounds open under Level Two
No amount of cleaning or signage can, in public open space where many people are involved, be a substitute for Personal Public Responsibility. Playgrounds, and many other facilities within parks, particularly at entrances and where we invite temporary vehicle storage for visitors, are areas where restrictions won’t work without Personal Public Responsibility. Our main conflict issues have arisen in parks between members of the public, where people have ‘called out’ other people they felt have not done this properly.
As ever, we should remember that even at a time of restrictions, we as parks leaders should also be talking up those opportunities and great places that are still ready to be used in our networks, alongside the restiction messages. Parks have never been more popular it seems, and as Cameron Parr said recently, you promote what you have and noone has had much else recently other than access to their park! Helping people to Find their Park and to seek fun is our gig too, as well as playing in the whole park! What better way to achieve Level 2 success than to fall back on our planning concepts of dispersal, wellbeing advantages by contact with nature, suggestions of access and setting oportunities, prompts to remove ‘barriers’ to participation and frankly open spaces being the memory making machine that is joy.