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Richard Protheroe, Strategic Director at Stevenage Borough Council

“Thank you to all of our residents for your patience regarding the closure of 56 outdoor play areas across the town.

The play areas were closed in January as part of our work to protect the public from a rapid increase in Coronavirus cases in Stevenage, in particular, those aged 0-11 years and 20-39 years old. In January, the rates for 0-11 year olds had risen to 429.4 per 100,000 which was of great concern. We would like to thank the young people of Stevenage and their parents who have followed the guidelines so that we have all been able to see the infection beginning to come under control in Stevenage.

The council’s Covid team has worked hard with support from other agencies, including the Police, to encourage residents to follow the guidelines in order to lower the number of positive cases in Stevenage. As we move towards the next stage of the Roadmap and the relaxation of other Covid restrictions, we are adopting a staggered approach to reopen our play areas.

As at 5 April the case rate for 0-11 year olds stood at 7.04 cases per 100,000 and we are monitoring a reduced number of cases across our town amongst other age groups. Vaccination take up amongst eligible adults is good and we have seen a significant reduction in the number of patients being treated in hospital for Covid. Taking into account this evidence the council is now in a position to reopen the play areas for our residents.

The first outdoor play areas to open on Monday 12 April 2021 will be the ones located in our four award-winning Green Flag Parks - Fairlands Valley Park, Town Centre Gardens, Hampson Park and Shephalbury Park. Our remaining outdoor play areas will be reopened by Friday 16 April.

Jim McManus, Director of Public Health, Hertfordshire County Council added,

“We need to keep numbers of infections down to open up outdoor play areas across Stevenage again. We know children and adults in playgrounds get too close and this means an infected child can expel infected aerosol on others when too close. All we need to do is keep our distance and sanitise hands after play. If everyone can continue to stop the virus spreading and getting into eyes, nose or mouth, then we will stop infections and be able to use these play areas safely. If we don’t, numbers of infections will rise again.”

Schedule of reopening of play areas