Here's when soft play areas will reopen in England - and what to expect
For those waiting for soft play areas to reopen, the wait is now over for soft play centres in England began reopening from Saturday 15 August.
For clarification, here are the current rules around how these playgrounds are set to reopen safely.
When did play areas close?
All indoor leisure and sports facilities, such as gyms and soft play areas were forced to close in England on 20 March at the start of the nationwide lockdown, while outdoor playgrounds were closed on 23 March.
When did soft play get the go ahead to reopen in England?
Soft play areas are now open across England, having reopened their doors on 15 August.
Addressing the nation in a speech on 31 July, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that numerous establishments he had hoped would be able to reopen on 1 August would now no longer be able to.
He said: “On Saturday 1 August, you’ll remember, we had hoped to reopen in England a number of higher risk settings that had remained closed. Today, I am afraid we are postponing these changes for at least a fortnight.
“That means that, until 15 August at the earliest, casinos, bowling alleys, skating rinks and remaining close contact services must remain closed. Indoor performances will not resume.”
However, it was then announced on Thursday 13th August that soft play areas, alongside casinos, bowling alleys and other establishments, would be able to open from 15 August.
In England, outdoor playgrounds have been allowed reopen since 4 July, along with restaurants, pubs, museums, hotels, and campsites.
How can soft play areas remain safe?
Part of the UK governments guidance on which soft play areas can open in England stipulates that sufficient airflow must be possible, explaining ‘The maximum occupancy of each indoor facility should be limited by providing a minimum of 100 sq ft per person’.
This has proved controversial for some soft play business owners who do not believe this is achievable for their business.
For the ones that can adhere to these guidelines, measures such as hand sanitiser stations, a one-way system around the soft play area, and protective screens at reception will be implemented.
The areas could also be deep cleaned with the use of electrostatic spray systems to prevent the virus lingering on surfaces.
However, there have previously been concerns over whether all of these measures will be possible to enforce in such an environment.
Speaking to the Manchester Evening News, Kelly Edwards, owner of Adventure Forest Play Centre in Trafford, said "Obviously the difficulty is implementing social distancing on the play frame, especially for children."