SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — State leaders reversed their decision to shut down playgrounds for regions under a stay-at-home order.

The state’s guidelines changed Wednesday, saying:

“Playgrounds may remain open to facilitate physically distanced personal health and wellness through outdoor exercise.  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.”

With the majority of California under a stay-at-home order, playgrounds can either reopen or stay open, even if a region is under the state’s version of a lockdown.

Governor Gavin Newsom’s administration made the change Wednesday after initially requiring them to close under the regional stay-at-home order rules.

“While they stood up and said go outside it’s good, go ski, go hike go to the beach, there are a lot of kids and parents that just don’t have the type of access to that type of outdoor activity. The little park on the corner is important, it’s an important outlet,” Assm. Lorena Gonzalez, D- San Diego, said.

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez is one of more than a dozen lawmakers who pushed the governor to reconsider playground closures.

“With that joy that we’re going to be able to play in playgrounds also comes a little bit of a fear. We have a responsibility now as parents to ensure we’re not congregating, we’re not breaking the rules, we’re wearing our mask, we have to be responsible because this is real. We’re trying to balance these inequities, the mental health and physical health but at the end of the day we ARE reaching capacity with our ICUs and that’s a problem,” Gonzalez said.

On Wednesday, signs from the state were zip tied to playground poles, reiterating rule like required mask wearing, no eating or drinking, and suggesting play time last 30-minutes if others are waiting.

Mayor London Breed in San Francisco said she supports keeping playgrounds open during the stay-at-home order.

“I’m glad to hear that the State has updated their Stay at Home order to allow outdoor playgrounds to open. Outdoor activity is important for all of our physical and mental health, especially children. We’re now updating our guidelines and playgrounds in SF will open by tomorrow,” she tweeted on Wednesday.

San Francisco Recreation and Park Department General Manager Phil Ginsburg released a statement on playgrounds reopening:

“I am thrilled our children will be allowed to safely play in neighborhood playgrounds again. Playgrounds are not luxuries. They are essential spaces, particularly for kids in dense, urban neighborhoods. A large body of research has shown playgrounds boost mental and physical health, sharpen problem solving and coping skills, and even ease the effects of trauma. I am grateful to Governor Newsom and Mayor Breed for making a decision based on both science and equity and prioritizing the wellbeing of families.”

The original stay-at-home order, announced on December 3, had allowed “outdoor recreational facilities” to remain open (without food and drink sales) but closed playgrounds.

The order is only triggered if a region’s ICU capacity falls to 15%. Some counties chose to issue the order before the state enforced it, including five Bay Area counties.

This week, San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa, Santa Clara and Marin counties closed playgrounds as well as any dining at restaurants, plus other restrictions as a part of the stay-at-home order.

This is what the order specifically shuts down:

  • Indoor Recreational Facilities 
  • Hair Salons and Barbershops 
  • Personal Care Services 
  • Museums, Zoos, and Aquariums 
  • Movie Theaters 
  • Wineries 
  • Bars, Breweries, and Distilleries 
  • Family Entertainment Centers 
  • Cardrooms and Satellite Wagering 
  • Casinos 
  • Limited Services 
  • Live Audience Sports 
  • Amusement Parks

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