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‘Punch in the guts’: Parents brace for playground closures as lockdown tightens

Mr Andrews defended his government’s decision to close playgrounds on Monday, saying shutting down play equipment was necessary after the Delta variant was transmitted outdoors at the MCG in July.

“Areas where large numbers of kids will congregate over time, it’s simply impossible to disinfect the space between different groups,” he said.

Mr Cummings said the MCG and playgrounds weren’t comparable.

“We’re talking about vast numbers of people packed into a tight space, whereas [playground visitors are] standing in the open air,” he said.

When Victorian health authorities wrapped caution tape around playgrounds during last year’s second wave of the pandemic, Mr Cummings said he and his wife Lizzie were forced to improvise.

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One day during a walk through Carlton Gardens, Louis and his little sister Rose, 5, began to climb one of the trees planted in a neat square next to the Royal Exhibition Building when it struck them that their new play equipment would be trees.

“I suppose we’re headed back there now,” Mr Cummings said.

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said there were many instances where parents supervising children at playgrounds were sitting down, drinking coffee and not wearing masks or social distancing.

“That’s the transmission risk, and the more we can get on top of each and every time – whether it’s a small and moderate or a significant contributor to that overall burden of transmission – we have to get to the finish line fast, so that this doesn’t drag on and on,” Professor Sutton said.

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