Children will be jumping for joy after soft play centres were given the green light to reopen for the first time in five months – but the ball pit is off limits to comply with social distancing.
They are among a raft of leisure centres that will swing open their doors tomorrow after an initial two-week delay sparked by rising rates of infection.
Soft play centres will join bowling alleys, skating rinks and casinos to welcome visitors for the first time since March 23. Music venues, comedy clubs and theatres can also open their doors from tomorrow.
The Government said a ‘small spike’ in infections had now ‘levelled off’ and it was safe for play areas to reopen with social distancing measures in place.
Government guidance says soft play centres should feature hand sanitiser stations, a one-way system, and protective screens at reception and cafes.
Visit our live blog for the latest updates: Coronavirus news live
Spontaneous visits may also be off the cards, with online pre-booking and reduced capacity among the new rules.
Loose play items are against the rules – meaning the ball pit, a favourite, will be out of bounds.
Like pubs, parents’ seating areas in reopened play centres will be socially distanced.
Ahead of the announcement, the industry warned it was on the verge of collapse.
The British Association of Leisure Parks, Piers and Attractions said soft play centres needed to reopen for the health of children, who were ‘overlooked’ in the pandemic.
It said: ‘The mental and physical health of children is especially important in an age group that is the least vulnerable to the virus and also the least able to comprehend the enormity of the situation.’
But Boris Johnson said he ‘would not hesitate to put on the brakes’ if the virus continued to spread.
‘At every stage I have said our plan to reopen society and the economy is conditional and that it relies on continued progress against the virus,’ he added.
Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at [email protected].
For more stories like this, check our news page.