No10 insists playgrounds are available for all children despite official advice

11 February 2021, 20:29

Number 10 have said playgrounds can be used by all children
Number 10 have said playgrounds can be used by all children. Picture: Getty

By Maddie Goodfellow

Downing Street has insisted it is acceptable for children living in homes with private gardens to use public play parks, in contradiction to official advice.

Government guidance says playgrounds are "primarily open" for those who do not have access to private outdoor space.

But No 10 and Health Secretary Matt Hancock rejected this on Thursday, saying all families can use playgrounds.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "It's reasonable for any families to take their children to the park and to use playgrounds."

The confusion came after a statement from the Cabinet Office highlighted the official guidance.

"Playgrounds are primarily open for use by children who do not have access to private outdoor space, like their own garden," the Government website says.

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Mr Hancock, who has been photographed playing rugby with his sons in the park, said: "That is the first I have heard of that.

"The rules are really clear which is that exercise outdoor with members of your own family or one other person one-to-one - where you keep that social distance - that is OK. We specifically kept that in the rules.

"Of course going to the park with your kids to play rugby is not only allowed but is totally fine."

The Prime Minister's spokesman also sought to clarify the rules on whether parents can socialise when they take their children to play parks.

"Obviously we accept that's not possible for children but we're asking for adults to maintain the two-metre rule when they are in those sorts of circumstances," he said.

"People can, and it's perfectly reasonable, as the Health Secretary set out, for them to take children to playgrounds or parks for the purposes of exercise but we're asking people not to do so for the sole purpose of socialising."

In a statement issued earlier by the Cabinet Office, a Government spokeswoman said: "Playgrounds are primarily for use by children who do not have access to private outdoor space, and while parents, guardians or carers are allowed to take children to a playground for exercise, they must not socialise with other people while there."

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said families should make the decision on whether to take children to playgrounds if they have their own garden.

Sir Keir told reporters: "I think it's very difficult to legislate for gardens and families. Families have difficult circumstances as it is, they are all struggling, they are all doing their level best.

"We'll have to leave it to them to try to get this right.

"I don't think that trying to legislate for who is in their garden, who isn't in their garden, is going to work."