Democrat California Governor Gavin Newsom continues to keep an iron grip on the state’s residents with coronavirus restrictions, including closing playgrounds — a move criticized by at least one doctor and fellow “progressive” legislator Matt Haney, who said the move is “devastating” for children.
This remodeled park in the TL opened for just a few weeks, provided safe, healthy, stewarded play & respite. It is soul crushing that it will be required to close.
Meanwhile on blocks surrounding it, literally 100s of people are still congregating on sidewalks, mostly w/o masks. pic.twitter.com/JIIcDps01r
— Matt Haney (@MattHaneySF) December 5, 2020
“I’m introducing a resolution, co-sponsored w @HillaryRonen, to call on the Governor and state to amend the public health orders to keep playgrounds open for kids,” Haney tweeted on Monday. “@Ash_Kalra @LorenaSGonzalez @BuffyWicks & others have organized a similar effort among state legislators.”
— Matt Haney (@MattHaneySF) December 5, 2020
I'm introducing a resolution, co-sponsored w @HillaryRonen, to call on the Governor and state to amend the public health orders to keep playgrounds open for kids. @Ash_Kalra @LorenaSGonzalez @BuffyWicks & others have organized a similar effort among state legislators
— Matt Haney (@MattHaneySF) December 8, 2020
Monica Gandhi, an infectious diseases and HIV doctor at the University of California at San Francisco also spoke out about the playground shutdown on social media, including the fact that by banning people for gathering outside leads to more people inside, which can lead to spreading the virus.
“Therefore, to institute the same measures as in March, including shutting down of playgrounds (despite lack of evidence on surface transmission), outdoor dining (where there has been no data to show that this is unsafe), and prohibiting members of different households to gather outside, is not data-driven,” Gandhi tweeted. “Decisions that are non-data driven, despite the public knowing so much more about the virus as well, will erode trust in public health officials and foster noncompliance with such orders. This can drive people indoors who used to gather outdoors.”
My concern about the almost-complete lockdown order in 5 counties in Bay Area is that it is similar to March, but we have learned so much about the virus since March! In March, a complete lockdown was indicated because we didn’t know if the virus was spread from surfaces;
— Monica Gandhi MD, MPH (@MonicaGandhi9) December 5, 2020
The San Francisco Chronicle reported on the pushback:
Already isolated from friends and taking classes via laptop, many Bay Area kids — and their fed-up parents — took some solace in the fresh air and fun at their local park or playground. San Francisco reopened playgrounds in October, and they proved popular.
Their disappearance is not. Parents … are unhappy, as are some politicians and even one doctor.
“We’ve only been able to go to playgrounds here in San Francisco for six short weeks. It has been bliss!” said Courtney Helland, 40, who has three young children. “My 4-year-old loves to swing. He could do it for hours. Hearing his giggles and squeals as I push him higher and higher is the magical sound of childhood. My heart breaks when I realize he was denied that joy all summer and will be denied again starting (Monday). It really feels like the city is shutting down playgrounds just to ‘do something.’”
Come on, CA! Playgrounds are a vital piece of urban infrastructure, particularly for those who live in tight quarters with little or no outside space. While public schools remain closed, kids need dedicated spaces to play and exercise. @LondonBreed @GavinNewsom @philginsburgsf https://t.co/RnL4TtPhNI
— Decreasing the Distance – SF (@sf_dtd) December 6, 2020
The Chronicle reported that even the head of the city’s parks is not pleased.
“Families from all parts of the city are frustrated and sad,” Phil Ginsburg, general manager of the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department, said. “We’ve heard quite a bit.”
Last week, a dozen state legislators sent a letter to Newsom about the playground closures.
“It is necessary for the mental and physical health of children to have opportunities to expend their physical energy and play,” the lawmakers wrote. “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.”
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