If paradise was half as nice – soft play centre for children.
THE owner of an award-winning chain of children’s indoor soft play areas is calling on the Scottish Government to urgently reconsider its latest decision to keep soft play centres closed – a move he describes as “both confusing and potentially catastrophic” for the sector.
Yesterday, First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, pictured right, announced a decision to “pause some changes that we had previously scheduled for slightly later this month [on Monday, the 14th]”.
For soft play centres (and other sectors, such as theatres and live music venues) that means an “indicative date” of October 5 for their re-opening following the lockdown response to Covid-19, with the First Minister recognising that it is a “very hard message to hear” for people working in the affected sectors.
David Capaldi, managing director of six Wonder World soft play areas across the UK is being backed by industry body, Association of Play Industries (API), who share his increasing fears for the sector’s future and that of the thousands of staff it employs in Scotland.
Mr Capaldi notes: “The under-12s, our target audience, are not required to socially-distance and the science has been very clear that increased infection rates are, in fact, directly related to young adults.
“Additionally, there is no evidence to suggest that recently re-opened soft plays in England and Wales have contributed in any way to rising infection rates. This latest announcement which keeps the Scottish soft play sector shut therefore makes absolutely no sense, particularly when you consider that indoor facilities like gyms and trampoline centres, which attract a much older age group, have been allowed to re-open.”
He added: “It’s widely known that this virus survives on any hard surface yet outdoor play parks – a magnet for families across Scotland – are allowed to operate with little or no sanitising facilities available for children or, more importantly, adults.
“Like many operators in the indoor soft play sector, we have already spent close to £six-figures making our facilities Covid-secure to ensure families’ safety within our premises.
“We also have measures in place which would require adults visiting our sites to wear masks (when not eating in the café) and socially distance.”
He continued: “Soft play centres directly employ thousands of workers across Scotland but if the sector remains closed much longer, it will be potentially catastrophic in terms of the huge number of jobs which will be lost. This is completely avoidable but only if the decision makers look at the facts and reverse their decision before it’s too late.”