The sounds were familiar. Shrieks and laughter echoed through the trees. Playgrounds in San Diego County have not sounded like this in more than six months.
The cities of Poway and Imperial Beach removed the caution tape and started cleaning their jungle gyms in their parks after the state released new outdoor recreation guidance on Monday.
“For a lot of kids, the playground is their backyard. They live in apartments with just a terrace,” said Poway Mayor Steve Vaus. The mayor said he cut the tape off one playground during his Tuesday morning run.
Vaus agreed with the decision to close the parks in March.
“It was tough,” he said. “It was done out of an abundance of caution. I get that.”
However, he was happy to see them reopened in his city.
Monday, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said he directed city staff to prepare playgrounds to be reopened after it was permitted by the State of California with strict safety rules in place. Nearly 290 city parks will reopen on Saturday.
“He needs it. I know other kids need it,” said Estefany Blancarte who brought her 2-year-old son Aiden to the playground in Balboa Park.
The playground was still guarded by a “No Trespassing” sign.
“We’re breaking the rules,” said Blancarte who played on the jungle gym with her son and their friends.
The orange plastic fence surrounding the playground looked as if it was knocked down weeks ago.
“If he doesn’t do this, my house is just chaos,” explained Blancarte. “It’s Hell.”
Spokespeople with the cities of Chula Vista, National City, and Oceanside told NBC 7 their cities are still discussing the future of their playgrounds.
The City of Carlsbad said they’d be opening playgrounds on Friday, Oct. 2 with limited occupancy and increased cleaning. The only exception is Hidden Canyon Park, that won't reopen until Oct. 12 due to repairs.
The county of San Diego said their operated playgrounds would reopen by Sept. 30 but children will be required to use face coverings if over the age of 2, must maintain social distance and play with others from their own household.
The county also said there is no eating or drinking allowed at playgrounds to ensure face masks are worn.
Public health officials urged those who use the playground to wash their hands before and after using the playground and encouraged park-goers to limit their visit to 30 minutes if there are other people present.
In Poway, Vaus said city crews would clean the playgrounds up to four times a day.
“And keep an eye on it,” he said. “Keep an eye on the social distancing and the masks.”
Those are just some of the rules in order to hear those familiar sounds echoing from your neighborhood playground.
The California Department of Public Health issued the following guidelines for playground and outdoor recreation area visitors:
- Face masks over the mouth and nose are required for everyone 2 years of age or older with caregiver supervision at all times to ensure face mask use
- Do not use the playground when different households are unable to maintain a physical distance of 6 feet or when the capacity limit of [number of children and number of adults] has been reached
- Caregivers must monitor to keep adults and children from different households at least 6 feet apart
- Consider coming on different times or days to avoid wait times and potential crowded times
- No eating or drinking in playground, to ensure face masks are worn at all times
- Wash or sanitize hands before and after using the playground.
- Elderly and persons with underlying medical conditions should avoid playground when others are present
- Limit visit to 30 min per day when others are present
- More guidance for playground operators can be found here.
The state DPH also recommended flyers listing these rules be posted at all outdoor playgrounds.