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California, LA County Reverses Closure Of Outdoor, Public Playgrounds

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The state and LA County reversed its public health order Wednesday on closing outdoor public playgrounds after intense criticism by parents and lawmakers.

The regional stay-at-home order that was triggered by Southern California's ICU capacity falling below 15% included the closure of outdoor public playgrounds. And even though outdoor recreational areas like beaches and trails remain open, parents were furious that local neighborhood parks were being closed.

The state's COVID-19 guidance changed Wednesday to say "playgrounds may remain open to facilitate physically distanced personal health and wellness through outdoor exercise." LA County officials said they would follow suit in a news conference Wednesday afternoon.

The governor announced the new regional stay-at-home order last Friday, prompting several lawmakers to sign a letter, urging him to reconsider the closure of playground structures. The letter, posted by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, said playgrounds in community parks were a critical resource for disadvantaged children and families.

"It is necessary for the mental and physical health of children to have opportunities to expend their physical energy and play," the letter said. "However, especially in lower-income communities, families may have little to no outdoor space of their own available. Public playgrounds provide a shared outdoor resource for families without having to travel far, pay entrance fees, or need additional outdoor gear."

Playgrounds were shut down in March to help stem the spread of COVID-19, but were reopened in September with new public safety guidelines.

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