Indoor soft play areas bounce back to action as lockdown eases
The lockdown restrictions easing from Monday May 17 means one thing for exasperated parents - soft play will finally be back to keep the children entertained again - just in time for half term.
The lockdown restrictions have meant indoor play areas have been closed for months during the pandemic.
After being forced to close in March last year when the pandemic began, they were sucker-punched again in June when indoor play areas were left off the list of venues able to reopen before the second lockdown.
However, from Monday, the sound of excited children will fill the air once more as they race up inflatable slides, pelt plastic balls at their parents and enjoy the colourful atmosphere of soft play.
Bounce Play Centre in Moor Park Avenue, Bispham, spoke out after the first lockdown and said the whole situation had been "a bit of a nightmare."
Some 19 members of staff had been placed on furlough, and it received support from resort MP Paul Maynard, who said he had raised the issues faced by indoor play areas in Parliament.
Mr Maynard criticised the lack of clarity given to businesses such as indoor play centres during the pandemic, and "raised the issues faced by this sector with the Prime Minister and made clear that if there is a reason they cannot open to the public, that the Government must continue its financial support."
But now they have finally been given the green light, and Bounce will be among others across the resort to open its doors.
Rob Woollin, owner of Bounce Play Centre, said: "We've had great support from Paul Maynard and we're really pleased to be opening again from Monday.
"We've had a tough year, we lost some staff who went off to uni or to other jobs so we've been busy recruiting and training while getting ready to open again.
"I think everyone I know has been affected by the pandemic in some way, whether financially, emotionally or by losing someone, it's been hard for everyone.
"But we've been back and forth during lockdown to keep on top of everything at Bounce, we have a commercial fogging machine to keep everything clean and are allowing limited numbers.
"We can't have birthday parties until June, so half of our business still can't carry on. But we hope people will support us and we're really excited to hear kids playing here again."
Thanks for reading. If you value what we do and are able to support us, a digital subscription is just £1 for your first month. Try us today by clicking here.