Swings, slides and jungle gyms at 66 playgrounds across Berkeley finally reopened to children on Friday, bringing back a much-needed outlet for families dealing with the closure of schools and childcare during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Berkeley’s shift into the orange tier made way for the change, along with the opening of indoor dining at 25% capacity on Oct. 26, expansion for retail and several other new activities.

This is the city’s guidance for using playgrounds, under statewide rules:

  • Wear a face covering if you’re 2 years of age or older
  • Use playgrounds only when you can keep 6 feet of distance from anyone not in your household or stay within a capacity limit
  • Consider alternate, less busy times
  • Don’t eat or drink while at playgrounds
  • Wash or sanitize hands before and after use
  • Limit use to 30 minutes
  • If you are over age 65 or have underlying health conditions, avoid playgrounds altogether as you are at higher risk of severe COVID-19 illness.

Berkeley Parks, Recreation and Waterfront staff inspected each playground individually to ensure they adhered to COVID-19 restrictions, according to the city, beginning their work at 4 a.m. Friday.

Occupancy and age limits are posted at playgrounds, along with bilingual signage in English and Spanish asking families to take safety precautions when visiting parks.

The city initially closed down all playgrounds in March under shelter-in-place orders because the structures are “high touch” and hard to clean. The city emphasized Friday that these spaces are open safely — but still unmonitored — and families should do their part to limit spread of the virus.

Supriya Yelimeli is a housing and homelessness reporter for Berkeleyside and joined the staff in May 2020 after contributing reporting since 2018 as a freelance writer. Yelimeli grew up in Fremont and...