Stay-at-home order: California playgrounds allowed to open following outcry from parents

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- On Wednesday, California updated its stay-at-home guidelines to allow playgrounds to stay open as essential amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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"Playgrounds may remain open to facilitate physically distanced personal health and wellness through outdoor exercise," said CDPH Deputy Director of Communications Ali Bay.

Originally, outdoor playgrounds were forced to close under the stay-at-home order. That upset some parents and lawmakers who argued playgrounds are some kids' only opportunity to play outside and burn off steam, especially in urban settings.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed said in a tweet that playgrounds will reopen in the city by Thursday. "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."

Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland) is one of a dozen lawmakers who wrote to Governor Newsom, urging him to re-open playgrounds.

"I had parents reaching out to me from all over my district, begging for some accommodations here with playgrounds," says Assemblywoman Wicks.

She says children need to be able to go outside for their physical and mental well-being, but adds, this is also an issue of equity. "I will say, this is really important for low income communities. If you live in an apartment complex, or you don't have a car, you can't get in your car and drive off to one of the state parks, you rely on that local playground," says Wicks.

Mayor Breed supports the decision. But she advises families to limit visits to 30 minutes, not to eat or drink at the playground, and says if it is busy, to come back later.

Breed warns reopening playgrounds is not meant to be an excuse to hang out with others.

"The last thing we want is to see our numbers escalate out of control, where we have to close playgrounds again. We don't want to do that under any circumstances. All of these closures hurt, but especially, anything that we do impacts out children, hurts them even worse. Do your part," says Breed.

MAP: CA counties that can, can't reopen under new rules

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