Playgrounds Can Reopen in San Diego County, State Says

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Some parents of small children will be relieved to hear that California has reversed its decision to close playgrounds as part of the state's new regional Stay Home Order.

"Playgrounds may remain open to facilitate physically distanced personal health and wellness through outdoor exercise," state officials said in an update to the order issued for San Diego and other counties in the Southern California region. "Playgrounds located on schools that remain open for in-person instruction, and not accessible by the general public, may remain open and must follow guidance for schools and school-based programs."

The news was sure to be welcomed by outgoing San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer, mayor-elect Todd Gloria and others who called for the reopening.

“Kids in San Diego County can now enjoy local playgrounds," said San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher in a statement that went out Wednesday morning. "This is something that can be done safely and make the lives of families easier. My conversations with California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly worked, and I appreciate their partnership on this adjustment."

Over the weekend, many parents made sure to hit their local playgrounds while they could. Among them were Jesse Aston-Smith, a Pacific Beach resident who took his two daughters to Maruta Gardner Playground, in Mission Beach.

“It’s difficult because my girls need to go out, they need to have a life,” said Aston-Smith as he watched his 8- and 10-year-old daughters spin around on playground equipment.

“The risk of playgrounds is mixed,” said Dr. Natasha Bhuyan, a family physician with One Medical, adding, "On the one hand, playgrounds are safer because they are outdoors, so they are an ideal place for children to play and have fun and there are ways to minimize the risk at playgrounds. On the other, children aren’t always wearing masks at the playground, children are interacting with others."

Playgrounds were closed earlier in the pandemic, then reopened in September. While playground equipment was closed on Monday by the state, the surrounding parks remained open.

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