Reopen News: NYC playgrounds reopen with social distancing

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- The start of Phase 2 in New York City meant the locks would be removed from playgrounds that have sat empty for months, and parents and children were happy to have the recreational option back on Monday.

"During the pandemic, we just stayed at home and the kids got bored easily," said Zhidan Dai, a mother of 20-month-old twin girls. "So we are glad we can come back so they can see other kids and run around."

Phil Darovic, a father of three, added that the open playgrounds made things feel like New York City was finally getting back to normal.

"It's great," he said. "I love this park, and the kids love coming here. It was tough."

Kids also told Eyewitness News they were happy to be back and to see friends.

While the playgrounds are open, the pandemic has not passed and parents are asked to take extra precautions.

Signs at the entrance to playgrounds warn that the equipment is not sterilized and remind everyone to practice social distancing, wear face coverings, wash their hands, avoid touching faces, and to stay home if they sick.

Mayor Bill de Blasio acknowledged the predicament parents have faced.

"I want to get this right," he said. "I know what it feels like as a parent to have young kids and to deal with all the challenges every parent deals with, especially if you have multiple young kids, and it's been months and months of being cooped up. We want to give this relief."

A spokesperson with the Department of Parks added that the face covering requirement applies to anyone over the age of 2 and added that employees known as "social distancing ambassadors" will visiting city parks and playgrounds to remind people of the rules and pass out masks to anyone who need them.

The spokesperson also said the department was reopening more than 1,000 parks, some of which require operational work, and suggested that could delay re-openings in certain locations.

Parents said they are taking extra precautions.

"It's a problem for the parents, they are too small to wear mask," said Dai, referencing her twins. "What I can do is just wash their hands and use the hand sanitizers after they play, and change their clothes when we go home."

Darovic said he brought his own chair rather than using playground benches.

"Just trying to be smart, keep clean," Darovic said.

Victoria Wagner, a nanny, said she preferred the swings because they are easier to wipe down.

"We are doing what we can," she said. "We are wearing masks, and we are going to sanitize."

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