We talk to NParks to find out what steps they’re taking to keep kids safe from COVID-19 when they visit a playground in Singapore
Phase 2 heralded the re-opening of two absolute staples of kid life in Singapore: swimming pools and playgrounds. While each carries its own set of risks, we trust the government’s assessment that playgrounds in Singapore are now safe enough for kiddos with the proper precautions in place (in addition to germs, we must be mindful of mosquitos, too!).
What does that mean? Kiddos should wear face masks at all times, caretakers should have plenty of hand sanitizer (and wipes, and bug spray) on hand, and everyone should still practice safe social distancing.
Given the ever-shifting rules (remember trying to figure out if you were allowed to take more than one child out at a time?), we turned to the folks at NParks to find out exactly what steps they’re taking to keep kiddos safe in Phase 2. Below, check out our Q&A with Sophianne Araib, Group Director for Parks on the National Parks Board.
What exactly is now open in Phase 2?
The Multi-Ministry Taskforce announced on 15 June the resumption of activities as part of Phase Two of the post-Circuit Breaker reopening. In line with this, from 19 June onwards, park facilities including playgrounds, skate parks, hardcourts, fishing areas, dog runs, beaches, lawns and fields, shelters, and car parks reopened, subject to safe management measures as stipulated in the Enterprise Singapore (ESG) guidelines. (NB: This includes Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden, one of our absolute faves!)
Social and recreational activities, such as having picnics, photography, tai chi, kite-flying, or playing of ball games, will also be permitted but within a group size of maximum five people.
Our F&B outlets in our gardens and parks will reopen for takeaway and dine-in for group sizes of up to 5 people. Convenience stores, retail and recreation outlets, will also reopen, with safe management measures following guidelines by Enterprise Singapore.
And what is still not open?
Camping sites, barbecue pits, galleries and attractions, such as the National Orchid Garden, will remain closed for now as these settings tend to involve large numbers of people who are likely to come into close contact, often in enclosed spaces and for prolonged periods of time, thereby increasing the risk of transmission of COVID-19.
Will playgrounds be monitored to ensure safe distancing? Is there a limit to how many children can play at one time?
The National Parks Board’s staff patrol our gardens, parks and nature reserves on a regular basis as part of their daily work. As part of their duties, they also enforce safe distancing measures. Safe Distancing Ambassadors have also been deployed to help ensure safe distancing.
We also have signs on safe distancing in playgrounds. For instance, no more than five children are permitted on certain play equipment at any one time in bigger and more popular parks. Children are advised to keep a safe distance when queuing to use these play equipment. Where appropriate, queue markers have been included to aid in safe distancing.
Are children allowed to bring shovels/pails for sand play?
Children can bring their toys for sand play too, and should be supervised by adults at all times for their safety.
Are children required to wear masks on playgrounds?
With the opening of more amenities in Phase Two, we would like to encourage park visitors to be socially responsible and observe safe distancing measures for their own safety and that of their family and friends. This includes wearing masks at all times except when engaging in strenuous exercises or consuming food, drink or medication, and observing a safe distance of at least one metre from other visitors.
Will there be extra thorough daily cleanings on playground equipment?
We have been carrying out regular checks and cleaning of our play and fitness equipment during closure. For Phase Two, as the facilities open, we will also be disinfecting the frequently touched areas of our play and fitness equipment daily, in line with NEA’s guidelines.
Will water fountains stay closed for hygiene purposes?
Drinking fountains in parks have also been reopened in Phase Two. Park visitors should avoid rinsing their bottles or washing their hands at the drinking fountain, which is meant for refilling their bottles. For public health and hygiene purposes, they are also advised to refrain from drinking directly from the spout and not to spit and gargle into the fountain.
While the public may visit our parks in groups of not more than five people, they should also observe a safe distance of at least one metre between members of the group or if this is not feasible, between groups. For those engaging in sports and physical exercises, they should observe the safe management measures as stipulated in the SportSG guidelines.
Before heading down to our parks, please visit SafeDistParks.nparks.gov.sg for the latest updates on visitorship levels. You can also check our website for the latest advisories for parks, gardens and nature reserves in response to the COVID-19 situation.
Be sure to check www.nparks.gov.sg/noticeboard for further updates!
Lead image: Marine Cove Playground at East Coast Park. All images by Blub Creative