Sefton Council has now re-opened safely nearly all of its 100 play areas after they were closed as part of nationwide “lockdown” restrictions to control the spread of COVID-19. Just two remain closed because the equipment requires repair.

In line with Government guidance, the Council’s Green Sefton team has carried out risk assessments for each site and applied the guidance to minimise the risk of coronavirus infection. The inspections were also used to identify any faulty or damaged equipment, which was repaired, removed or disabled before re-opening.

Children will have to be accompanied and supervised by parents, guardians or carers while using play areas. Groups should not enter play areas and each child should have only one family member accompanying them.

People are expected to maintain a two-metre social distance from anyone outside their family or support bubble. And they are being asked to restrict visits to half an hour at busy times and not return for two hours, to allow everyone to have a turn.

Parents, guardians and carers should ensure their children’s hands are sanitised before and after using any play apparatus. They should also clean or sanitise seats and handles before using the equipment.

People are asked to avoid touching their faces and to cough or sneeze into a tissue or arm when a tissue is not available to prevent risk of infection. Food and drink is not permitted and visitors should take their litter home with them or place it in a litter bin away from the play area.

New signage has been erected at all playgrounds to remind users of the measures designed to keep everyone safe. A limited amount of equipment such as certain swings will have to remain out of use for the time being to enable people to maintain social distancing.

Cllr Ian Moncur, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing said: “I am pleased that all of our 100 or so play areas are now open again and please to hear our Green Sefton team report that people are complying with the measures we have put in place to help keep them safe.

“Coronavirus is still with us and our ongoing priority is to protect all our residents, which is why we have carried out this thorough process to open our play areas safely in line with the Government’s guidelines.”

People should not use not use play areas if they or anyone they live with has symptoms of COVID-19 or has tested positive or if they have been advised to isolate by the NHS Test and Trace service.

Information about Sefton’s parks and greenspaces can be found at  www.sefton.gov.uk/parks