Owners of a soft play centre at Kirkby Stephen have welcomed children back after nearly five months of being closed down under COVID-19 guidelines.
Despite jubilation at being able to open the doors of Platform 3 again, Philippa and Rob Burton were disappointed by the lack of communication or notice that they could reopen from the Government.
On 13th August, the Government announced soft play centres could reopen two days later, as part of the latest phase on easing lockdown.
With less then 48 hours notice they could begin to trade again, Philippa and Rob, who live at Kirkby Thore, took the decision to delay opening their doors while they got all measures in place.
This has included a further deep clean of the play equipment, restocking their cafe, arranging staff and training workers in the new safety procedures.
Philippa added: “I hadn’t been told anything despite constantly emailing anyone I could think of for information.
In Wales, soft play opened and Scotland were set to reopen in September, but we had no date. They hadn’t even said what we needed to do to reopen.”
In the time Platform 3 was shut, they received just one £10,000 grant which had to cover a wage for Philippa, and ongoing overheads including rent and insurance.
As Phillipa is co-owner, she was unable to be put on furlough and, in a loophole many have expressed upset over, she had not been self-employed long enough to qualify for those grants.
However, the couple, who have two young sons — four-year-old Jackson and six-year-old James — are now keen to get back to business and see children enjoying their facilities once again.
The business is operating 90-minute time slots for up to eight children, with a maximum of six allowed on any one booking.
Parties can also be held between 3.30pm and 5pm, subject to no other bookings already having taken that time slot.