When can soft play areas open? Dates for England and rest of the UK

As lockdown slowly continues to lift, soft play areas are set to reopen soon in all parts of the UK.
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  • In pre-pandemic times, soft play areas were a great day out for many kids – so when can they open again after lockdown?

    It’s a question that families have been asking, as more lockdown restrictions have been lifted under the government’s roadmap. Children went back to school over a month ago and baby and toddler groups have been allowed to continue operating. This means it’s only those very young children that haven’t been accounted for yet.

    Much like when zoos reopened and other interactive attractions were allowed to go ahead, the day that soft play areas across the UK can fully open again will be another step towards ‘normality’ for million of young children.

    When can soft play areas open in England?

    Soft play areas are reopening from May 17 in England, under stage three of the government’s plan. 

    While nurseries and childminders were allowed to stay open during lockdown, soft play areas have been put into this later stage of reopening as they aren’t deemed as “essential” and don’t normally operate as childcare centres. 

    Small boy going down a slide at a soft play area when it reopen

    Credit: Getty

    Soft play areas are also fairly high-risk in terms of transmission, as it’s difficult for children to maintain consistent social distancing and regular respiratory hygiene – such as hand washing.  

    At the same time as soft play areas reopen, pubs and restaurants will open their indoor seating areas. Cinemas bowling alleys will reopen too. Group sports taking place inside, such as gym classes, also have the go-ahead for this early summer date. Swimming pools are open again already, as are gyms and fitness studios. 

    And while there have been doubts about how successful the roadmap will be, in light of new Covid-19 variants and third wave in Europe, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has assured that all is going to plan. 

    We set out our roadmap and we’re sticking to it.” He said, “And I want to stress, that we see nothing in the present data that makes us think that we will have to deviate from that roadmap.

    “But it is by being cautious, by monitoring the data at every stage and by following the rules: remembering hands, face, space and fresh air – that we hope together to make this roadmap to freedom irreversible.”

    Multi coloured balls and yellow slide

    Credit: Getty

    When can often play areas open in Scotland?

    Scotland has lifted restrictions recently, but there’s still no word on when soft play areas will reopen.

    Pubs, restaurants, cafes shops, swimming pools and gyms have now all reopened in Scotland, following a harsh four-month lockdown across the country.

    Soft play areas have been closed since the first lockdown in March 2020. Upon reopening, spaces will be enforcing social distancing and have to have capacity constraints in all venues.

    On the same date, up to six people from up to three households can socialise indoors. Up to eight people from three households will also be able to social outside and hospitality can stay open until 11pm.

    When can soft play areas open in Wales?

    Children’s soft play centres in Wales will reopen on May 17, according to the Welsh government’s roadmap.

    Two women walking past a play centre, as people are asking when soft play areas can open

    Credit: Getty

    From this date, all children’s indoor activities will also be able to resume. Organised inside activities for adults, such as exercise classes, can also resume with up to 15 people.

    When can soft play areas reopen in Northern Ireland?

    Soft play centres in Northern Ireland are closed. The roadmap out of lockdown in Northern Ireland works under review dates, rather than set dates for lifting restrictions. So, soft play area could reopen again after the next review on May 13.

    Since the last review on April 15, all pupils have now returned to school and the ‘stay at home’ message has been replaced with ‘stay local’.