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Playground Equipment During COVID-19 Emergency

​Recent news articles have been published about the closure of public use playground equipment amid concerns of the spread of COVID-19. The concern is valid given that, according to the New England Journal of Medicine, the virus can survive up to three days on plastic and stainless-steel surfaces (https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200317-covid-19-how-long-does-the-coronavirus-last-on-surfaces).

Some municipalities have made the decision to close playgrounds because they are unable to ensure that spaces are sanitized, or on advice of Public Health. According to one article, the City "requires local school boards and private property owners to follow the city's leadership and close public access to their playgrounds (https://barrie.ctvnews.ca/orillia-closes-playground-equipment-due-to-covid-19-1.4863393)".

For these reasons school boards may be faced with only the option to close the equipment. In this case, signage and a message to the school board's website can advise users of this. As an example, the City of Port Coquitlam BC advised its community that "Effective immediately, the City is closing all public playgrounds to help stop the spread of #COVID19."

Providing physical barriers such as orange snow fencing or caution tape is not recommended.

According to Scott Belair, lead instructor for the Canadian Playground Safety Institute, "any method of 'closing' equipment often just presents a different type of hazard. Fencing or barricades are more often than not just another hazard that might be encountered for a determined visitor that wishes to use playground equipment." Additionally, he states that using rope "would actually make the play area non-compliant as a potential strangulation or clothesline hazard".

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