Outdoor playgrounds in San Francisco now reopen

San Francisco announced on Wednesday that outdoor playgrounds around the city are back open.

The city's more than 180 public playgrounds, which have been closed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, will have signs reminding families of capacity limits and other guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Mayor London Breed's office said Recreation and Park Department crews will be stationed at the busiest playground for the first two weekends of operation to educate families about the new rules and ensure health guidelines are followed.

"It’s important kids have a place to explore, have fun, and get some outdoor exercise. We hope this brings families and kids some joy during an otherwise challenging time," Breed said. 

The city said reopening parks was a priority for the health and well-being of children.

"Playgrounds are happy, they're joyous," said Phil Ginsburg from San Francisco Recreation and Parks. "But, for children, their development, their social emotional development, their ability to problem solve their ability to take risks, their ability to share and collaborate, this is really serious stuff to get kids back in playgrounds."

City officials said there will be capacity limits on the number of people allowed in based on the size of the playground. Also, in accordance with state regulations, playground vistis must be limited to 30 minutes when there are other vistors. 

Social distancing is required and all vistors over the age of two must wear a face covering. Eating and drinking are not allowed. 

In addition to reopening all the parks, the city's recreation cut the ribbon on some newly renovated parks. "So we're not just reopening playgrounds, we are cutting the ribbons on 5 amazing playgrounds that have just been waiting for children," said Ginsburg.

Kids say they're happy to return. "I feel good here, it's nice playing with friends," said Aliya Johnson from San Francisco.

Her father was pretty happy too. "It's a nice change from what's been going on. A lot of kids [have] been stuck in the house, you know. But to get out and be with their friends, and really they need that exercise and stuff that all kids need every day. So it's just great to have a park open. 

The city's parks and recreation department says they don't want to see parents buried in their mobile phones. They need parents to monitor how their children are behaving at the park and to see they are still wearing their masks and maintaining some distance from the kids around them.