Children ‘bored and frustrated’ as parents unsure if outdoor play is allowed

Laura Parnaby, PA

Children are missing out on playing outside during lockdown because of confusion over coronavirus guidance, parents have said.

Playing Out, a group which ordinarily encourages parents to organise play sessions for children on their streets, has said children are “suffering” due to unclear guidelines.

Playing Out’s co-director, Alice Ferguson, said the group is asking the Government to “include play as essential exercise” – one of the limited reasons people are allowed to leave the house under current legislation.

Ms Ferguson said: “Children playing outside doesn’t get recognised as being exercise because it doesn’t look like exercise in the way adults do it, like going for a run.

“It would give parents reassurance that it’s a legitimate reason to be outside with their children if it were included in the guidelines.

“There is a lack of clarity, and the people that suffer in the end are the children who are not able to exercise.”

Winter weather Jan 24th 2021
Parents have called for clarity on whether children are allowed to play in their local park as part of their daily exercise under current lockdown regulations (Jonathan Brady/PA)

The group also called for clarity during the second national lockdown in England last November.

Renewed calls come as a father and his two young sons said they were sent home while making a snowman in their local park after the current lockdown in England came into force in January.

Tim Greany and his sons Bo, 6, and Wren, 8, told BBC Newsround they had been taking photographs of their snowman when police officers told them to leave, making them feel “upset and annoyed”.

The family said the officer told them to play in their own garden, but their London flat does not have one.

Bo told Newsround that being unable to play outside has made him feel “bored and frustrated”.

The Government has said it recognises “the importance of exercise to the physical, mental and emotional wellbeing of children” and has left playgrounds open for this reason.

A spokesperson for the Cabinet 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.”

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