Adventure playgrounds and lockdown II
5 November 2020
For adventure playgrounds considering whether to open during the second national lockdown from Thursday 5 November, the rules are not particularly clear. This might help.
This lockdown is, of course, different from the first and schools remain open. Government guidance states that outdoor playgrounds are permitted to remain open, whereas most youth clubs and groups are not.
So, can adventure playgrounds open? Should they open? Many settings will need to follow the direction of their local authority and each will have its own circumstances to consider - including the communities that they serve and the needs of staff.
But many will agree that adventure playgrounds are vital for the wellbeing of children who have already suffered disproportionately from the impacts of coronavirus restrictions. Closing them and other play provision will force children to again bear the brunt of measures taken to contain a disease which itself poses a very low risk to their health. So for those playgrounds that are committed to opening during the lockdown, it seems there are two options:
1) Operating as ‘a playground’.
Outdoor playgrounds are specifically listed as one of the venues which is able to remain open during lockdown. The type of outdoor playground is not specified. If adventure playgrounds are not permitting children to use indoor areas (which we understand to be the case in most settings) we think they could legitimately argue that this is the description which fits most closely.
2) Operating as ‘childcare’.
The provision of ‘supervised activities for children’ is able to continue where this is deemed ‘reasonably necessary to enable parents to work or for the purposes of respite care.’ This includes providers which are not Ofsted registered so could encompass adventure playgrounds, which clearly do provide respite to parents and carers – whether they are in work or not.
The National Youth Agency, which has been liaising directly with government officials, has announced that the youth sector can remain ‘partially active’ while adhering to the ‘RED’ level of the NYA Readiness Framework. This suggests that ‘support groups’ for bubbles of up to 15 young people are also permitted to take place indoors (with social distancing in place) – classified as a ‘defined group with a defined purpose’.
London Play has written to the Minister for Communities and Local Government, Robert Jenrick, asking him to explicitly support the opening of adventure playgrounds.
More information can be found via these links:
• Government guidance:
• Government legislation:
• NYA RED level fact sheet: