The wait to open public parks has been very long for parents as well as children who have been confined to their homes over the past 4-5 months. With the number of infections falling considerably, parents are hopeful that very soon they would be able to take their children for outdoor activities, albeit with necessary precautions.
Although the Supreme Committee tasked with tackling the COVID-19 pandemic has eased several lockdown measures, it is yet to decide on the opening of public parks. “It is not always easy for children to stay indoors for long time, especially those who live in flats. It has been so hectic for them and I wish they could be allowed to go to public parks. It has been my prayer for the past months and every week passes with hope. I feel sorry for my children who need some form of physical fitness,” Anwar Abdullah, father of four children living in a two bedroom apartment, said.
With the closure of parks and malls being out of bounds for children, parents feel their children are deprived of social activities. “I used to take my children to parks and malls at least twice a week during holidays. By doing so, they become more active, instead of being confined at home with either their play stations or their phones. I have noticed that by sitting at home, both my children have gained weight because they spend most of their time on their gadgets. Before, parks were the best place for them to frequent, to relax and exercise at the same time,” Ameer al Shaibani, a retired private sector employee, said.
It is not just children who wish for parks to reopen, adults, too, say they have been having a tough time in meeting their health requirements. “My health has suffered a lot as I stopped going for a walk in parks. I always feel so uncomfortable to walk on the streets, my favourite spot was in the parks. But since they are closed, I have confined myself at home, to the extent that I have started developing knee joint pains. It is difficult to manage, especially when you are living in a flat,” Sumaiya al Abri, a Seeb resident, said.
According to many, parks may have nothing to do with infections because of their vast open spaces. “Most of the parks in Oman are big enough and chances of COVID-19 infection among visitors is low. There was no need to close them for so long. Just like people go to the beaches and malls, parks should also be like that. In fact, I feel they are more safer than the malls because they are open,” Fatmah al Naamani, mother of five from Muscat, said.
The Ministry of Health has, for the time being, advised both, citizens and residents, to refrain from visiting beaches or parks to avoid getting infected with COVID-19.
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