All play areas within City of Bellingham parks will reopen for use by the public late this week, Mayor Seth Fleetwood announced today. Playgrounds at all City parks have been closed and taped off since late March, when many City services and facilities were shuttered to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“We believe children and parents in our community will be very happy with this news,” Fleetwood said. “We have heard from many families that it was a difficult summer without being able to use the playgrounds at our parks. We are pleased to welcome people back to our 38 play areas this fall.”
Bellingham Parks & Recreation Director Nicole Oliver said she is aiming to have all playgrounds open and ready for play by Friday, October 16. She said signs are being installed and tape and barriers removed, so some play areas may be open earlier than others.
Oliver said the decision to reopen playgrounds was made with the support of the Whatcom County Health Department and is consistent with other agencies in our region that are also making play areas available this fall. She said the changing weather will help reduce the risk of too many people gathering at once, and she asks users to help by observing posted limits and guidelines.
“We cannot allow play areas to be places where COVID-19 is spread, so we need folks to use these spaces wisely and follow the guidelines we have in place,” she said. “We’re all in this together, so kindly help each other remember the limits and please choose a different activity or a different park if a play area gets too crowded.”
Oliver said the following guidelines for playground use were developed in collaboration with the Whatcom County Health Department.
- All children over age two must wear a mask.
- Play equipment is open to five or fewer kids at a time.
- Some play areas have only one piece of play equipment (usually a climber/slide combo), and others have many pieces of equipment (swings, little kid climber, big kid climber, etc.). No more than five kids on a piece of play equipment.
- Give yourself and others at least six feet of space.
- Stay home if you are sick or if anyone in your family is sick.
- Please wash your child’s hands before and after play.
- The popular zipline at Squalicum Creek Park will remain closed.
- Play areas are not regularly sanitized or cleaned.
Tips on using the play areas and helping keep these spaces open:
- Keep a close eye on your child to ensure that they are following the guidelines.
- Stay for a short time (30 minutes or less) to give everyone an opportunity to play.
- No food or drink on the play equipment to ensure that masks are worn at all times.
- Visit parks during less busy times.
- Visit less popular parks. Bellingham has 38 play areas, not including those at schools.
- Mornings are less busy than afternoons.
- Weekdays are less busy than weekends.
- Remind others of the guidelines and find a different activity if the play area gets too crowded.
For more information about City play areas, contact Bellingham Parks & Recreation.