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With the UK adjusting to life under lockdown, we are still asking questions about the restrictions on going outside. Like does lockdown mean you are not even allowed in the garden? And can kids still play outside?
If you’ve been wondering whether you are allowed in your garden during the lockdown or whether children can still play outside, you’re not the only one.
Recently the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson announced new plans to tackle the coronavirus outbreak. Under the new rules people are only allowed to leave their house to fulfil essential tasks like grocery shopping, getting medicines and caring for vulnerable people.
The new guidelines also restrict exercise to only once a day and the police have been given new guidelines to break up groups of more than two people.
If caught breaking the new rules, you could be fined up to £30 while those failing to self-isolate could be fined up to £1,000. So it’s important to know what you are and aren’t allowed to do at this time, while the UK fights the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
Are you allowed in the garden?
While Boris Johnson has announced that everyone must stay inside, avoid all social gatherings and continue to practice social distancing, he has previously also stressed the important of fresh air for our mental wellbeing.
Therefore, if your garden is private property (i.e. at the back of your house) and not shared by people you don’t live with, then you are absolutely allowed in your garden.
In fact, science has long proven that spending time outside (even just in the garden) can help to reduce stress, making you feel calmer, happier and giving you more energy. So whether you’re just sitting to read a book or getting active with some exercises, the more time you can spend outside but away from others – the better.
Are children allowed to play outside?
Your kids (and you) are allowed to play in the garden but what about outside?
While healthy children seem to be at a lower risk to COVID-19 than adults, but vulnerable children are still susceptible to the virus and can become seriously unwell. And as any parent knows, coronavirus or not, children are small vessels of infection that are easily capable of passing something on to other members of their family.
So keeping children away from those exposed to the virus is an integral part of stemming the flow of infection. This is a key element of the government’s plan to delay the peak of the virus until summer, when the NHS will be under less pressure with seasonal illnesses.
As the recent rule changes have shown, socialising is considered to be an unnecessary thing to do at the moment due to the rapid rate at which coronavirus is spread. It’s important to minimise children’s contact with anyone outside their own home as much as possible, which includes preventing other people (even family) from entering the house.
In most circumstances, it also includes preventing children from coming within two metres of each other.
Max Davie, health officer for Health Improvement for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) told ITV News, “Exercise outdoors is a very good thing” and children can in fact still play outside, but precautions must be taken.
“I think the principal is that on the one hand, outdoor exercise is good, it’s going to keep everyone healthy and we have to keep the population healthy as well as protected from the virus.”
However, with the new government guidelines it’s now prohibited to gather in groups of more than two people who you don’t live with. Playgrounds, sports pitches and other places that children might once have been able to play together have also been closed.
So, it’s better to be safe than sorry. With enforced social distancing as much as possible, playing with other children outside is not allowed – as it would be difficult to ensure that a safe distance between them was maintained.
What can they do instead?
While it might be difficult to stop children from playing together, it’s vital to do so in order to stop the spread of the virus. But luckily, there are plenty of things children can do outside that don’t involve playing with others. And if you have a garden, there are even more entertaining things to do!
- Going for a walk, cycle or run with a family member once per day
- Building a fort in the garden
- Join in Joe Wicks’ online PE classes
- Trying out gardening and growing your own vegetables
- Practicing mindfulness, with apps like Cosmic Kids Yoga
For all these and lots of other great ideas to keep your children occupied both inside and out of the house, explore the GoodtoKnow website.