In a surprise turnaround on December 9, 2020, the state of California has reversed the policy of playground closure for COVID 19 prevention. What this will mean locally is still to be decided.
Local governments have the option to adhere to the most strict closures rules available. The difference between a less strict wider order (state of county) and a more strict city or regional order leaves the decision on where to draw the line to local officials. The option that they cannot chose is to be more liberal that the next level of jurisdiction; stricter orders take precedence.
“I know the playgrounds have been, really for many, sort of not well understood, and [their closure] creates a lot of hardship for families,” L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said.
According to the LA Times, California State health officials “went back and forth for many days” about how to handle reports from local parks departments about crowding, children playing without masks and the difficulty of sanitizing playground equipment.
Culver City’s Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department’s Arames White-Shearin offered that things were in process. “We just heard ourselves, so we are waiting for the word from [Los Angeles] County to see how Culver City will move. I think it would be great, no more yellow caution tape on the playground equipment, but that’s not my call. Once County decides, then the city will decide.”
Besides the closed playgrounds, many recreation options are still open, with social distancing and family/household members only groups required. Beaches, parks, trails, campgrounds, batting cages and outdoor pools are all available.