State says San Diego County playgrounds can remain open during stay-at-home order

Posted at 9:25 AM, Dec 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-09 15:22:37-05

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Playgrounds in San Diego County can reopen to the public Wednesday, despite initially being closed under COVID-19 restrictions, after state health officials reversed course.

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, led a group of a dozen legislators who sent a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom last week urging him to remove playgrounds from the stay-at-home order. They claimed opening playgrounds "is necessary for the mental and physical health of children to have opportunities to expend their physical energy and play." They also noted that in some low-income neighborhoods, "families may have little to no outdoor space of their own available."

Newsom and the California Department of Public Health revised statewide public health guidelines on Wednesday to allow for public playgrounds to remain open.

"Every parent knows how important playgrounds are for our youngest Californians," Gonzalez said. "A huge thank you to Governor Newsom for hearing our collective concern and rethinking how we can open play structures for our kids."

Playgrounds were closed earlier in the pandemic before being reopened in September. Then, with a spike in case rates and the state's issuance of a regional stay-at-home order, which took effect late Sunday night across all of Southern California, playgrounds closed again.

Pressure from parents and legislators have now caused the state to reopen the playgrounds.

According to the state's website, "playgrounds may remain open to facilitate physically distanced personal health and wellness through outdoor exercise. Playgrounds located on schools that remain open for in-person instruction, and not accessible by the general public, may remain open and must follow guidance for schools and school-based programs."

San Diego County Supervisor Jim Desmond made a motion at the Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday to defy the state order and not enforce the playground closure. It was rejected 3-2.

Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said his conversation with state officials proved productive, and gave credit to Gonzales -- his wife -- for her work.

"Kids in San Diego County can now enjoy local playgrounds. This is something that can be done safely and make the lives of families easier," Fletcher said. "My conversations with California Governor Gavin Newsom and Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly worked, and I appreciate their partnership on this adjustment."

"Thank you to everyone who worked cooperatively with the state, to bring about this adjustment, our collective efforts made a difference, special shout out to my wife, supermom, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez," he said.