Home > Blog > Children's play, health and wellbeing > Children’s Commissioner wants distancing dropped for children outdoors

Children’s Commissioner wants distancing dropped for children outdoors

posted this in Children's play, health and wellbeing on 14/07/2020

Playing out in Bristol

Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England, wants children under 12 to be able to mix freely outdoors without distancing, so that they can “play outside as normal” this summer, as children in Scotland now can.

In her latest blog, she highlights the enormous negative impact on children – especially the most disadvantaged – of the closure of schools, playgrounds and other activities. She strongly calls for updated public health guidance to consider risks to children’s wellbeing and development in the round.

In a letter to the Chief Scientific Advisor, the Commissioner questions the basis for applying the same distancing rules to children and adults, especially as research evidence is starting to indicate that “children are at very low risk from Covid-19 and play a limited role in transmitting it”.

It’s already clear that the ongoing impact of COVID-19 restrictions on children’s physical and mental health is going to be extreme, especially for those already vulnerable. And yet, despite lockdown easing in so many different areas, not enough has changed for children. They can now go outside – and many are – but as the Children’s Commissioner makes clear, distancing rules are still severely limiting children’s ability to play out together, take part in sports or other activities, and make the most of the summer.

Dropping the outdoor distancing requirement for children under 12 in England (as has already been done in Scotland) would make it far easier for play, sports, schools and community organisations to provide crucial support and activity for children over the summer, helping them to recover from the impact of lockdown. It would also give confidence to the many councils and residents wanting to support and organise play streets.

Children everywhere in the UK desperately need a summer of play, fresh air, friendship, running around and FUN after the restrictions, hardships and anxieties of the last four months without school or friends or much time outside. They need it physically, mentally, emotionally and in every possible way. And it is entirely possible to give it to them.


Links and further info:

Read Anne’s latest Children’s Commissioner for England blog, including her letter to Sir Patrick Vallance and his response.

Read the current guidelines on distancing for children in Scotland, which allow children under 12 to play freely together outdoors.

Read our blog post from April, calling on Government to consider children and play in Covid-19 guidelines.

London Play have also long been calling for distancing rules to be relaxed for children playing outside and for a return of play streets this summer.

We also think that the time is right for play streets to return, regardless of any change of rules, as streets allow for distancing and residents can take responsibility for this. Read our Play Streets 2020 page for more info.


Would you like to stay in touch with the latest Playing Out news and blogs?

Sign up to our newsletter