Indoor playgrounds are still closed across the globe due to the ongoing pandemic and its mutation with a new strain that is more infectious. Fortunately, there is no studies yet that detailed whether this mutation is deadlier. But for areas such as Australia and Toronto, commercially-operated playgrounds have started to operate again, albeit with, strict policies on admission and safety protocol.
The City of Toronto issued a public awareness guidance for indoor playgrounds recently and for commercial operators of indoor playgrounds, this can be a basis for your overall policies and guidelines in maintaining a safe, hygienic and law compliant playground.
Take note however, make sure to reopen when the local government have approved it. Different cases and different situations apply for commercial playgrounds that are allowed to operate in Toronto.
Staff Health Screening and Attendance
- Inform staff about the changes being made to protect them against COVID-19.
- Ensure all staff complete a health screening questionnaire before each shift. The questions can be completed online, on paper or by asking your staff directly.
- Adjust work hours and shifts to reduce the number of staff in your facility at any one time.
- Have a flexible sick policy so staff do not come to work ill.
- Remind staff about the importance of reporting illness to their supervisor/manager.
- If staff become ill with symptoms of COVID-19 while at work, they should go home right away and self-isolate. Instruct staff to call Telehealth at 1-866-797-0000, a health care provider, or an
- Assessment Centre to get tested.
- Staff should report to their Occupational Health and Safety Department prior to returning to work.
- In general, staff can return to work 14 days after their symptoms began if they had COVID-19.
- There are no clearance tests required for staff to return to work.
- For other illnesses, or if a staff has tested negative for COVID-19, they should not attend work until they are symptom-free for at least 24 hours.
- Staff should receive clear instructions on the new mask policy, and understand who is exempted from wearing a mask. Proof of exemption by customers is not required.
- Masks should not be placed on children under two years of age.
- Educate staff on the proper use of masks/face coverings. They should change masks when moist
- or dirty, but in areas away from customers (e.g. lunch room, private office).
- More information on use of non-medical masks or face coverings can be found here.
- Additional resources for staff training is available from Public Health Ontario.
- Discourage staff from gathering together in the lunchroom or common areas.
- Educate staff on hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette:
- Wash hands frequently with liquid soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds, or use hand sanitizer (70-90% alcohol concentration) if water and soap is not available.
- Cover cough or sneeze with the elbow or a tissue. Immediately throw the tissue in the garbage and wash hands.
- Encourage staff to download the COVID Alert app so they can be notified directly if they have been in close contact with someone who was contagious with COVID-19.
- Limit entrances to control the number of customers entering the facility at any given time.
- Set a capacity limit for the number of customers (children and their parents/guardian) allowed in the premises at any given time.
- The capacity limit should be based on available floor space, to ensure ease of movement while maintaining two metres (six feet) of distance from others. Consider one person for every two metres square (four squared metres) of floor space.
- Post signage at the entrance stating of the maximum number of customers permitted at any one time.
- Set limits on the number of customers permitted in each play area at any given time. Post signs by the entrance to each play area, and at attractions, party rooms, and washrooms.
- Consider measures to prevent crowding, such as:
- Creating a reservation system with pre-assigned times of use.
- Implementing time limits (e.g. during peak use periods).
- All customers and visitors should complete a self-screening questionnaire (for adults or children)
- before entering the facility.
- Anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 or has been in contact with a person with COVID-19 should not be allowed in.
- Inform customers about the changes you have made to protect them against COVID-19.
- Designate a contact person (e.g. supervisor) to respond to COVID-19 concerns from staff and customers.
- Encourage customers to pre-book their hours of play and number of players. This may avoid disappointment if the facility is full.
- Use visual markers, stickers or pylons to encourage physical distancing while waiting outside.
- Post physical distancing signs at all entrances, by cashiers or service counters.
- Place markers or circles so customers know where to stand when waiting or interacting with staff.
- Where possible, arrange play equipment to create walkways to allow for physical distancing.
- Install plexiglass/barriers if possible, where there will be close contact between staff and customers, between play areas/attractions, and at the checkout.
- Move seating, at least two metres/six feet apart or tape off alternate fixed seating.
- Mark the floor with tape, where seats should be placed so it can be repositioned, if moved.
- Remind children to avoid direct contact and keep their distance as best as possible from people they don’t live with.
- Discourage staff and customers from congregating in all areas of the playground.
Play Areas and Attractions
- Ensure toy materials and equipment can be cleaned and disinfected between uses.
- Rope off play areas or attractions, where high-touch equipment, attractions or toys cannot be frequently cleaned and disinfected (e.g. ball/foam pits).
- Monitor each play area/attraction to ensure the posted capacity limits are being followed.
- Stagger the flow of people entering and exiting each play area or attraction to prevent crowding.
- Use floor markings, barriers and signs to create one-directional walkways where appropriate (e.g. entrances, play structures, washrooms).
- Consider marking spaces for people in the same household.
Cleaning and Disinfection
- Develop enhanced environmental cleaning and disinfection policies and procedures.
- Maintain a log to track cleaning and disinfecting activities.
- Increase the frequency of cleaning and disinfecting washrooms, as required.
- High traffic areas and frequently touched surfaces, objects, fixed-equipment, and attractions should be cleaned and disinfected at least twice per day, and when visibly dirty (e.g. doorknobs, toilet handles, countertops, hand rails, slides, climbing structures, obstacles, arcade buttons or joysticks).
- Shared toys, equipment and other materials must be cleaned and disinfected between users (e.g. balls, riding toys, play houses).
- Review Public Health Ontario’s Cleaning and Disinfection for Public Settings fact sheet.
- Refer to Health Canada’s list of hard-surface disinfectants for information on disinfectants effective against COVID-19.
Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Systems
- Ensure the HVAC system(s) for the facility are maintained according to manufacturer’s instructions, or more frequently.
- Use the highest efficiency filters that are compatible with the HVAC system, if provided.
- Indoor ceiling fans, if turned on should have an upward airflow rotation.
- Keep areas near HVAC inlets and outlets clear.
Workplace Health and Safety
- Employers must have written measures and procedures for staff safety, including for infection prevention and control.
- Ontario has general information on COVID-19 and workplace health and safety, where employers can learn about their responsibilities and how to protect workers at work.
- Workers can also get information about health and safety protections at the workplace.
As playgrounds are looking to reopen under the new normal, communities and commercial spaces are also planning to adapt to the ways in bringing back play to the daily life of children. If you’re a commercial space owner, a business owner or a community manager who are looking to establish a playground, iREC, a playground manufacturer can assist and deliver an detailed playground plan. Contact iREC today: Call us at +63 047 250 2779 / +63 047 251 3139 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to get in touch with our sales team.