California playgrounds allowed to open under updated stay-at-home order

Thursday, December 10, 2020
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Gov. Newsom had come under heavy criticism that shutting playgrounds would harm low-income children who have few options to safely romp outside.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KABC) -- California officials on Wednesday quietly updated the state's guidelines by deeming playgrounds to be essential and allowing them to remain open amid a stay-at-home order prompted by a surge in coronavirus cases.

"Playgrounds may remain open to facilitate physically distanced personal health and wellness through outdoor exercise," the revised guidance on the website stated.

Ali Bay, a spokesperson for California's Department of Public Health, said in an email to the Associated Press that the change was new as of Wednesday morning and the department was working to share the news more broadly.

At an afternoon news briefing, Supervisor Hilda Solis said Los Angeles County will align with the state's new guidance. "Access to playgrounds is critical" for children, especially those whose homes do not have yards, Solis said.

Outdoor playgrounds were initially forced to close under Gov. Gavin Newsom's regional stay-home order.

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That safety restriction upset some parents and lawmakers, who argued that playgrounds are for some children the only opportunity to play outside and burn off proverbial steam, especially in urban settings.

Many of the state's 40 million residents are subject to the latest round of stay-home orders, although several counties in the San Francisco Bay Area chose to implement their own voluntary orders independent of the state.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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