By Lethbridge Herald on May 28, 2020.
The City of Lethbridge will be reopening playgrounds today, but is stressing people who use them are doing so at their own discretion and potential risk.
“We are excited to be able to announce that beginning (Friday) Alberta Health Services and our local committee has given us permission to reopen playgrounds across the city,” said David Ellis, parks manager for the City of Lethbridge.
Ellis reminded residents the City would not be able to offer daily cleaning of these apparatuses in its 123 play areas or any hand sanitizer stations. It will be up to parents and caregivers to ensure their children are engaging in appropriate physical distancing, which is still required by public health order, and are cleansing children’s hands properly after using the playground structures.
“Children are obviously going to be excited to see friends and interact with other kids, it has been tough on them the last few months, but they are going to need reminding to keep some distance,” said Ellis, “and clean their hands after.”
Ellis said with so many play structures in the city it would be impossible for Parks staff or other City employees to clean the playgrounds properly after every use or to police them for people who are not following public health orders.
“Hopefully they are supervised by parents and caregivers of children,” he said. “The City will not be there supervising and enforcing rules. That is really up to caregivers of children to do that, and that’s a critical message people need to understand. Although the playground is open, it is up to parents and caregivers to make sure their children remain safe, and still enjoy the play opportunity.”
Ellis also explained why it took Lethbridge a little longer than other communities to reopen their playground areas.
“Opening a playground is a big decision because of the touchpoints, because of the physical distancing,” he said. “The safety of our citizens is very important to the committee who makes those decisions; and so exercising on the side of caution is probably a better thing than not.”
Exercising that same abundance of caution, Ellis said the City will not be opening public washrooms as yet.
“Because of sanitation, we cannot clean them often enough,” he explained. “But we are discussing when and how to open washrooms now.”
Picnic shelters will also remain closed for the time being, the City later confirmed.
The Henderson Lake playground will also remain closed for another week due to irrigation project construction which is ongoing near the site.
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