CHILDREN’s soft play centres in East Lancashire are fearing for their futures and have appealed to the government for help.

As yet, they have had no word about when they can reopen and feel they have been left in limbo.

One such centre has been Cheeky Monkey’s in Chorley.

Director Lorraine Kearney said: “Following the government announcement, our sector has been left behind – confused, scared, angry, forgotten – 25 play centres across the UK have already closed their doors for good this week.

“Many of my colleagues across the industry have received no grant, no insurance pay outs, no CBILS loans and are now coming into the next stage of furlough where we are expected to contribute towards staff costs - How can we do that if we are not open?"

Social distancing will also be extremely difficult when dealing with young children.

Melanie Jones of the Beach Hut Centre in Great Harwood said: “With the government’s social distancing rule still in place it would be impossible for young children to play and interact on the frame.

“The solution to remedy this would be to allow fewer people through the door which would drastically reduce our income which in turn could make our business non-viable as wages, heating and lighting bills premises rent, refuse charges would all remain the same as pre-COVID times.”

She added: “The main insurers for all childcare centres and providers aren’t paying out even though we pay a fortune each year to be insured.

“The excuse they are giving out is that their policy doesn’t cover COVID even though it states that government closures and closure through infectious diseases are covered but COVID is not on their list, even though it was never going to be as it is new.”

In response the British Association of Leisure Parks, Piers and Attractions has launched a petition calling on the government to save the sector, warning that as many as 64% of indoor play sites could close by October.

BALPPA chief executive Paul Kelly said: “Last week the indoor play industry was dealt the latest devastating blow in the COVID-19 crisis when they were once again totally overlooked in the government’s re-opening plans.”

He added: “Without further support, the very future of this entire sector is at risk.”

Sign the petition at: