BALPPA starts petition to reopen indoor play centres as mascots head to Parliament Square

BALPPA, the British Association of Leisure, Parks, Piers and Attractions, is campaigning for indoor play centres to be allowed to reopen in the UK.

BALPPA has started an emergency petition asking UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to rescue the indoor play industry from closure, as over a dozen mascots headed to Westminster to urge the government to provide clearer guidance.

A recent survey conducted by BALPPA found that almost two-thirds of indoor play centres in the UK are facing permanent closure if not allowed to reopen soon. Following this, it announced the emergency petition, which has already gathered more than 20,000 signatures.

Mascots say ‘let us play’

On Thursday 16 July, over a dozen mascots from indoor soft play centres around the country, alongside owners, staff and families, descended on Parliament Square to ask Boris Johnson to take action.

“Last week the indoor play industry was dealt the latest devastating blow in the COVID-19 crisis when they were once again totally overlooked in the government’s re-opening plans,” says Paul Kelly, BALPPA chief executive.

soft play mascots protesting outside Parliament

“Over the past month, more than 20 of our members have gone out of business. A survey we conducted among our members showed that nearly two-thirds of the remaining centres will permanently shut by October.

“The financial support given by the Chancellor last week, while welcome, can only add value to those businesses that are allowed to reopen. Without further financial support, the very future of this entire sector is at risk.

“The indoor play sector already has COVID-secure guidelines signed off by the Health & Safety Executive, Public Health England and the Government. All they’re asking for is for a clear timetable of when they can re-open.”

Play is key to wellbeing

In addition to the economic impact, BALPPA has also heard from families about the long term impact of the closures on the health and wellbeing of children and young people. Several operators have heard from their MPs that the delay is due to the lack of diverse voices in parliament.

In Northern Ireland, the importance of play for children’s mental health and wellbeing has been recognised, and the date for reopening indoor play has been changed from 7 August to 17 July.

The petition is available here.

Last month, Blooloop spoke to Paul Kelly about how the pandemic is affecting the UK attractions industry, as well as the work BALPPA is doing to advocate on its behalf.