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Reopening of Soft Play

Keeping Customers Safe


The opening up of the economy following the COVID-19 outbreak is being supported by NHS Test and Trace. You need to assist this service by keeping a temporary record of your customers and visitors for 21 days and assist NHS Test and Trace with requests for that data if needed.

Indoor gatherings should only be occurring in groups of up to two households (including support bubbles) while outdoor gatherings should only be occurring in groups of up to two households (or support bubbles), or a group of at most six people from any number of households. It is against the law to gather in groups of more than 30 people, except for the limited circumstances as set out in law. You need to prevent large gatherings or mass events from taking place.

To ensure the safety of your customers you should:

  • Calculate the maximum number of customers that can reasonably follow social distancing guidelines at the venue. Upon opening, operate at reduced capacity with extended cleaning periods between each session. This should be kept under review.
  • Tables should be spaced to allow for social distancing.
  • Reduce the need for customers to queue, but where this is unavoidable, discourage customers from queueing indoors and using outside spaces for queueing where available and safe. A safe space for queueing will be highlighted.
  • Provide clear guidance on social distancing and hygiene to people on arrival, for example, signage, visual aids and before arrival, such as by phone, on the website or by email.
  • Manage the entry of customers, and the number of customers at a venue, so that all indoor customers are seated with appropriate distancing. Managing entry numbers can be done through online booking.
  • Manage outside queues to ensure they do not cause a risk to individuals and protecting queues from traffic by putting up barriers.
  • Make customers aware of, and encourage compliance with, limits on gatherings at booking. Indoor gatherings are limited to members of any two households (or support bubbles), while outdoor gatherings are limited to members of any two households (or support bubbles), or a group of at most six people from any number of households.
  • Encourage customers to use hand sanitiser or handwashing facilities as they enter the venue.
  • Remind customers who are accompanied by children that they are responsible for supervising them at all times and should follow social distancing guidelines.
  • Look at how people move through the venue and how this can be adjusted to reduce congestion and contact between customers. Introduce a one way system where possible.
  • Reduce the volume level of the music played in the venue so that conversation is not difficult, and customers do not need to shout.
  • Encourage card payments, contactless preferred.
  • Identify workers as designated supervisors for each area to ensure social distancing measures are being adhered to by customers.
  • Have clearly designated positions from which employees supervising can provide advice or assistance to customers whilst maintaining social distance.
  • Allowing a sufficient break time between sessions in order to appropriately clean the premises and equipment and to prevent waiting in groups.
  • Use signage such as ground markings to mark out required social distance to allow controlled flows of people.
  • Suspend all children’s parties and group bookings.
  • Permit only one parent/carer per child to supervise their child while following social distancing.
  • Provide safety information to customers online at the time of booking to prevent the need for large numbers of people to congregate to receive this before each session.

Face Coverings

Face coverings are mandatory for visitors when they are inside the venue, children under 11 may be exempt with valid reasoning.

Adults and children over the age of 11 must wear a face covering when entering the venue and throughout their stay.

Face coverings may be removed when eating and drinking at their table, however groups should not mix tables during their stay.

Staff are not required to frequently check visitors for exemptions when not wearing a face covering but should reasonably ask them to abide by the law.

Face coverings do not need to be worn when entering or while inside the play structure.


Soft Play


Cleaning of Soft Play Areas and frames

  • High contact surfaces should be cleaned between booked sessions. Particular attention will be paid to areas such as slides, monkey bars, enclosed crawl through ‘tunnels’ or tube slides and handholds.
  • Separate sensory rooms must remain closed.
  • Ball pits must be closed or physically removed from frames before opening.
  • Roleplay props must also be considered as single-use items and a suitable system must be in place for the handling, cleaning and sanitisation of props to facilitate this. Role play rooms must be cleaned in line with other indoor area frequencies. Role play areas must be restricted to one booked group, to reduce the risk of items being shared between different groups of children.
  • Difficult to clean items must be removed making it easier to clean the soft play area. For example, this would cover items such as soft punch bags, plastic balls and other easily removable items.
  • Any loose soft play items will either be removed or identified in a way that allows them to be included in the enhanced cleaning schedule. The risk of unidentified and mobile items is that they are missed or not included in an enhanced cleaning schedule. Identifying marks should be used, alongside a check sheet to record that each item has been cleaned. Pay particular attention to the withdrawal of unnecessary play items that children will put in their mouths or around their faces which are a high transmission hazard.


Soft Play Frame Operations


  • Before anyone is permitted to enter the soft play frame they should apply hand sanitiser at the point of entry to the play area. These sanitisation points should be adjacent to each separate play area (not just at the entrance to the building), supervised and the application of sanitiser made mandatory.
  • A written zero-tolerance policy dealing with non-compliance should be in place. Staff should be trained in the handling of non-compliant persons.
  • Where customers are required to queue, clear social distancing floor markings to stop clumping should be in place.
  • The capacity of the soft play frame should be calculated to allow for the current guidance on social distancing – this will allow households to socially distance. On the basis of normal play frame capacity calculations which is based on active floor area, capacity/occupancy should be reduced to maximum 40%, based on the total number of users including parents or guardian supervising. This should be monitored when in use as part of the ongoing risk assessment process, to ensure that capacities deliver social distance requirements.
  • Capacity management and social distancing should be controlled by:
  • Separate entrance and exit points, which will be staffed, to monitor/regulate numbers to no more than the maximum persons allowed to enter the play structure at any one time, with staff using tally counters to help monitor this.
  • Control via groups i.e. coloured wrist bands, all-in all-out systems.
  • Signage displayed at the entrance to the frame;
  • Encouraging parents to accompany children through the frame;
  • The natural one-way flow already built into structures (i.e. hard to climb slides);
  • Total centre capacity will not exceed the total number of persons allowed within the soft play frame.


The capacity for smaller play areas should be calculated as above. Where there isn’t sufficient space to facilitate social distancing only one household per area will be permitted at any one time.


To aid social distancing and avoid pinch points the following examples may be used:

  • Direction arrows or minor alterations to establish a flow system. For example log ramps to be up only and deck climbs and slides to be down only. Floor pads are typically 1.2m square so additional signage can be erected to remind customers to remain two square floor pads apart from others while playing in the structure unless they are from one family group or bubble.
  • Risk assessments of pinch points within the frame. Control measures such as temporary closure of confined spaces or areas that encourage users to congregate may be necessary.
  • Staggered start times for people entering the play frame.


If you would like any further advice, please call our Health & Safety Team on 01302 341 344. 

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