A child runs near the swings at the West Sunset Playground near a sign announcing its closure due to a shelter-in-place order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus on Wednesday, March 25, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Playgrounds set to reopen in October

For the first time since March, San Francisco’s outdoor playgrounds will reopen in mid-October with some coronavirus safety measures, officials announced Tuesday.

Outdoor playgrounds will reopen Oct. 14 as long as San Francisco remains in the orange tier of California’s coronavirus monitoring system, city officials said.

“We are thrilled to welcome families back to our playgrounds, centers of neighborhood joy and connection that have been sorely missed, particularly in our low income and high-density neighborhoods,” said Phil Ginsburg, Recreation and Park Department general manager. “Opening the Observation Wheel for Golden Gate Park’s 150th anniversary is a tribute to the resilience of San Franciscans, who have found healing and happiness in our parks throughout our history. The Wheel is a symbol of hope and celebration that connects our past with our future.”

The California Department of Public Health cleared the way on Monday for localities to reopen outdoor playgrounds and recreational facilities. Governor Gavin Newsom ordered their closure in the initial March shelter-in-place.

But closures of outdoor recreation facilities meant fewer places for children and families to let off steam with exercise and relaxation while cooped up to curb the spread of coronavirus.

California lawmakers signed a letter asking Newsom to reopen the playgrounds, calling them a “critical resource.” Ginsburg on Monday night also expressed frustration on Twitter that playgrounds should open and that the department has been pushing at the state and local level.

Guidelines for reopening include wearing masks at all times, maintaining distance and limiting visits to 30 minutes a day. Adults are also asked to watch over children at all times to ensure they stick to the safety precautions.

No eating or drinking is allowed on playgrounds and visitors must wash hands or sanitize before and after use. It’s recommended to come at off-peak hours and to not use the playground at all if six feet of distance cannot be maintained between different households.

Operators should post flyers outlining the rules at all outdoor facilities, state officials said.

Indoor playgrounds or family entertainment centers are not included in this guidance.

“This latest round of activities and re-openings is a result of the dedication and commitment of our residents and businesses,” said Dr. Grant Colfax, public health director. “Our actions to limit the spread of the virus continue to pay off. We want this to continue and we do not want any setbacks, so we will keep reminding the public to be diligent and wear a mask, physically distance and wash your hands.”

Bay City News contributed to this report.

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