The owner of a soft play centre that caters for children with additional support needs says the government must allow the sector to reopen and “let kids be kids”.
Becky Mennie, the founder of the Inverurie-based charity BECS Inclusive Soft Play Centre, has not been allowed to open her premises since it shut last March.
If Scotland is able to move to Level One restrictions on the indicative date of June 7, her facility will finally be able to reopen, and Ms Mennie said she “can’t wait to have little people in here again”.
However, she has raised questions over why some venues have been allowed to open before hers, such as role-play centres.
She said: “I’ve been trying to work out why we can go to a role-play café or trampoline park but we can’t go to a soft play centre.
“Some have opened already because they’ve got role-play sections or organised activities.
“We’ve built an indoor sensory garden, and our sensory room has been upgraded so it’s got more manageable, tougher equipment that’s easier to clean.
“So it’s going to be easier for us to clean than ever.”
Waiting for Level One restrictions
Ms Mennie said she has tried to contact the first minister about her concerns to no avail.
She said: “I’ve directly e-mailed the first minister’s e-mail address probably about 10 times a day, and have had nothing.
“Tier One is meant to be on June 7, and soft play can open then, but it’s not the point.
“We’re tiny, inside here it’s really manageable, easy to clean, and really there’s little difference between us and a nursery.
“We’re now focusing on getting ready to open, I’ve been at work cleaning and building new equipment, and we just can’t wait to have little people in here again.
“We’re just looking forward to opening so we can finally let kids be kids.”
The Scottish Government’s response
A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: “We do not underestimate the severe impact this pandemic has had on soft play centres across Scotland, and we expect them to re-open when Scotland enters Level One.
“This is dependent on continued progress on vaccination against Coronavirus (Covid-19) and suppression of the virus.
“We have always said we will keep plans under review and accelerate the lifting of restrictions if possible, and we will continue engaging with the soft play sector on this.”