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Lockdown and Playing Out

The impacts for children and outside play.

Lockdown was a very confusing time, with almost no government, local authority or police guidance around children playing or being outside  – guidance that we and others strongly called for.

Our inbox and network told us that parents felt very anxious and confused about what was allowed. Some vulnerable residents were also extremely worried by children being out playing, even just in their family group. Many parents simply kept children indoors during lockdown, afraid of being judged or fined and wanting to do the ‘right thing’.

The full negative impact of this for children’s mental and physical health – especially for those who had no access to private outdoor space – is now emerging for the UK, as it did for Spain.

What silver linings were there for outdoor play during lockdown?

There were also opportunities in lockdown. Traffic levels were reduced to pre-1960 levels, enabling more children to cycle, walk or play safely with siblings in the street where there was confidence for them to do so. Everybody loved the cleaner air and greater sense of community.

As traffic – the major barrier to children’s freedom and safe outdoor play – increased and continues to increase, we’ve been calling for residential streets to be opened up more for people and campaigning for streets to be made safer for everyone, both now and in the future.