California reverses course, says playgrounds can remain open under COVID-19 restrictions

California reversed course on Wednesday, stating that playgrounds can remain open under the state's COVID-19 restrictions following an outcry from parents and some legislators. 

The state's updated guidelines say that "playgrounds may remain open to facilitate physically distanced personal health and wellness through outdoor exercise."

California officially previously stated that playgrounds were required to close in regions where the intensive care units were strained due to the rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.   

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In a letter sent to Governor Gavin Newsom last week, a dozen California legislators urged the governor to reconsider the closure of playgrounds, stating that they might be the only opportunity for some families to "get outdoors," as advised for physical and mental health amid the pandemic.

"While we must appropriately consider best practices to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, we also must ensure the children across the state are not unfairly deprived of their opportunities for outdoor access and play," said in the letter. "The broad closure of playgrounds unfairly negatively impacts children and families."

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Following the reversal Wednesday, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, who signed the letter, thanked Newsom for listening to the complaint.

"Thank you to all the legislators who joined me in asking the state to review playground closures," she wrote on Twitter. Adding, "Yay!"

According to the state's updated guidance, playgrounds located at schools that remain open for in-person instruction, that are not accessible by the general public, may also remain open, as long as they follow state guidance for schools and school-based programs.

More information can be located on California's COVID-19 website.

Following the state's updated guidelines, Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis announced on Twitter that the county's playgrounds would also be permitted to be open amid COVID-19 closures.

"Aligning with state guidelines, we will allow playgrounds in LA County to open so that all children can have safe access to the outdoors. Play is crucial for childhood development. But low-income communities of color living in dense housing often do not have access to a yard," Solis tweeted. "With distance learning, having access to public playgrounds is more important now than ever."

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The county is asking that residents continue to wear face coverings and adhere to social distancing guidelines.