CHILDREN’S play centres across Lancashire have been faced with a challenging new environment due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Facilities say are adapting to new hygiene requirements and have been concerned about the effect of the virus on their businesses.

This comes amid continued speculation about further shutdowns.

Director of the Happy Daze Play Centre in Darwen, Dan Fairclough, said: “I understand the situation the government are in – it’s not something that’s been taken lightly but from the point of view of a business owner it would have been good to have had something put in place.”

Mr Fairclough was able to draw upon personal experience with having cared for his own premature children when instituting new rules requiring families to use hand gel and keep to general hygiene standards.

However, Mr Fairclough and his staff have been troubled by recent birthday party cancellations and are concerned about how long they will be able to continue for.

Mr Fairclough said: “As an employer I have a duty of care because at the end of the day, we’re run like a family, we all work together and for me to turn round and tell people they have to go would be unfortunate.”

Similarly, the Playtime Play Centre in Accrington has introduced hand gel and extra cleaning routines but is still facing huge challenges.

Owner Jodie Sargeson said: “I understand that people don’t want to come to centres like this at times like this but for us we need a firm decision taken by the government.

She added: “For us obviously the hygiene is something we can control but in terms of us as a business if this goes on much longer we may have to close down entirely and we can’t claim insurance unless the government tells us to close.”

Other centres have gone further, with the Leaping Lizards Play Centre in Clitheroe taking the decision to close on Monday night.

Owner Martin Aspinall said: “We thought it was only a matter of time until it was forced upon us, so we thought it was best practice to close.

“We’re just taking it hour-by-hour at this moment in time.”

However, other centres have managed to stay open, despite facing uncertainty.

The Beach Hut Play Centre has managed to keep its after school clubs going by introducing new measures including making hand gel freely available and advising families who have travelled to category one and two countries to avoid contact.

The after school club has also brought in new hands-on learning activities including games based on hand washing and teaching children to identify germs in order to help them avoid the virus.

Melanie Jones, owner of The Beach Hut Play Centre in Blackburn, said: “It has to be fun or else children won’t learn it as well, but something practical and fun helps children absorb the rules a lot better.”

Such measures aim to give children the vital skills they will need in the time ahead.