ACHA puts play time on hold

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Play parks across Scotland can finally fling open their gates this week but Oban housing provider ACHA is not playing ball – for safety reasons.

Argyll and Community Housing Association said it had made the decision to keep its playgrounds shut because it could not guarantee physical distancing or the public sticking to ‘enhanced hygiene controls.’

Although the nod to reopen came as part of Phase 2 of Scotland’s route map through and out of the COVID-19 crisis, gates at ACHA’s play parks will stay locked for now.

‘We will review the position again in early July and trust people will respect the decision, in line with public health considerations during uncertain times,’ said the housing association.

ACHA has a total of  35 play parks  throughout mainland Argyll and Bute and on the islands in developments where it has properties. It also has play parks at each of its two Gypsy Traveller sites.

Atlantis Leisure Centre recently reopened its tennis courts and Friends of Oban Community Playpark hope the centre’s outdoor adventure ground will be next getting children out in the fresh air again.

Out on Seil, the island’s community council is also keeping the play park next to the hall closed. The park has been shut all the way through lockdown but recently, plastic cable ties securing the gate shut had been hacked off.

Community councillor Seamus Anderson said the priority was to keep people safe, so for the time being the play area would be staying shut.

The island, as is other coastal communities and Oban itself, is bracing itself for the arrival of visitors soon as the lockdown restrictions ease up.

With play parks opening up elsewhere, The Register of Play Inspectors International (RPII) is calling for all playground owners across Scotland to make sure they carry out detailed safety checks first.

The RPII is expecting playgrounds to be very heavily used during the Scottish summer holidays and the eagerness of the public to start using them again, so it is vital that playgrounds are thoroughly inspected and any temporary barriers put up during lockdown, that could now be a hazard, removed.

If you are planning on visiting a play park soon, the RPII has issued some safety guidelines.

1.     If the playground facility you visit has not yet officially been opened, please do not attempt to use, or access the equipment or area.

2.     Do not remove any temporary barriers to the playground or plastic fencing or unravel any swing seats or cables that may have been secured to put them out of use. This must be done by the person or organisation responsible for it.

3. Follow the current social distance guidelines when visiting and encourage your children to do the same.

4.     If the playground is busy, consider coming back at a later time. Talk to your children about this possibility before visiting.

5.     Wash your and your children’s  hands before and after visiting. Take hand sanitiser with you and consider taking a bottle of water for if your children’s hands get covered in mud.