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Soft play owner’s plea for government support to reopen

PUBLISHED: 16:30 06 July 2020 | UPDATED: 18:34 06 July 2020

Karen Hyland, owner of Tumbledown in Stonham Barns, has hit out at government guidelines which are forcing her to close her business. Picture: TUMBLEDOWN

Karen Hyland, owner of Tumbledown in Stonham Barns, has hit out at government guidelines which are forcing her to close her business. Picture: TUMBLEDOWN

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The manager of a fun-filled soft play area has hit out at government guidelines which she says unfairly impacts smaller businesses.

The soft play area at Tumbledown soft play in Stonham Barns. Picture: TUMBLEDOWNThe soft play area at Tumbledown soft play in Stonham Barns. Picture: TUMBLEDOWN

Karen Hyland has owned Tumbledown soft play in Stonham Barns since January.

Despite spending lockdown improving facilities and creating a brand new high-tech sensory room, the new business is still not allowed to reopen.

Guidelines are in place to prevent larger play houses, which can accept “hundreds” of visitors at a time, from reopening.

However, Mrs Hyland says that the blanket rules are unfair as they enforce the closure of smaller, more adaptable businesses.

The soft play area at Tumbledown soft play in Stonham Barns. Picture: TUMBLEDOWNThe soft play area at Tumbledown soft play in Stonham Barns. Picture: TUMBLEDOWN

She said: “If you go with the normal Covid-19 business opening route, I could reopen.

“We can social distance and I can clean everything. It’s viable for me to do one household per session.

“So I can cover all the rules, apart from the fact that I’m on the lockdown list as soft play.

“That’s the only thing that is against me.”

The government guidelines have not yet set out a date for when soft play areas will be allowed to reopen.

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However, Mrs Hyland says that she is ready to open now, with an appointment system in place.

She has also removed soft toys and the ball pit so that her equipment will be easy to clean.

Tumbledown could not only help families with young children but also children with special educational needs.

Mrs Hyland said: “It would be very important for the business to reopen for me, but it’s not only that.

“A lot of my customers have special educational needs.

“Parents are crying out for their children to either have a good burnout, because they can’t just play in a park or go for a walk.

“I’ve also got a brand new high-tech sensory room but, because I’ve been told that it is classed as indoor play I can’t open it. It’s a lifeline to some children.”

The Department of Health was contacted for comment but only provided direction to the current Covid-19 guidelines.

Mrs Hyland added: “I think we should be given guidelines and if you cannot meet those guidelines then you can’t open.

“Others have got big followings. Theatres have got Hollywood stars and music has got artists. We haven’t got anyone out there fighting for us.”


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