Soft play owner rages on saying he’s ‘sacrificed’ so gyms can reopen

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A soft play center owner has said his industry is being sacrificed so that gyms in the Liverpool City area can reopen.Ian McKenna, who owns Crazy Town in Aintree, said he was “devastated” to hear that the Sweet Rooms should be closed.

Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram confirmed he had been in talks with Downing Street until late last night and had secured a deal to standardize restrictions for any level 3 area, which means playgrounds for children will have to close.

However, gymnasiums and recreation centers in the area will be allowed to reopen, which has left many soft play staff, including Ian, extremely frustrated.

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Ian, who has owned Crazy Town for nine years, told ECHO: “It’s absolutely devastating, the first time I heard about it was when I read it on ECHO. We haven’t had any notifications.

“And where is the science behind it? We have been awarded a Five Star Secure Covid Award. We mist our play area twice a day and the equipment stays sanitized for up to 21 days and kills all Covid people.

“Financially, it’s crippling. We were closed for 160 days during the summer and reopened on August 19th.

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“We have reopened with our own tracking and tracing system working alongside the government and we have had no cases of Covid found in our center.

“We have the impression that they are sacrificing us so that they can open the gymnasiums. It’s almost like they’ve gone well, we’ll give this to you but we have to get you out of it. You can open the gyms but we are closing the soft play centers – and there is no science behind it. ”

Ian, from Liverpool, also said the move would hurt the mental and physical health of the children as they would be lacking in fun and fitness, especially during the upcoming midterm break.

“We see our center as a children’s gym. Our play structure, has built-in trampolines, they can run around to burn energy and it is proven that a frame as large as ours can reduce obesity as children can burn calories while they enjoy it well.

“Preschoolers are really in pain because they can’t socialize, which will hurt every child’s mental health. Children have the slightest pleasure in taking them away.

“We have the October semester ahead, we are a lifeline for some families, where they come knowing we are safe with Covid. As the weather turns and it gets colder during the winter months, the kids are just going to get stuck inside. on their Playstations and do not exercise.

He added that he feared for his livelihood and the livelihoods of his staff.

“We are heavily in debt, we had to take out loans and we had no rent reduction. The business is on a downward slope. Before the lockdown, we employed 30 people, now we’re down to 15.

“They will be reduced to 60% of their salary now. I don’t think the authorities fought enough and now they are being punished.

“If we don’t open before Christmas or if we don’t get the financial help we need from the government, I don’t see Crazy Town opening the doors again. ”

Angelina Hyland, deputy director of Kidz Fantasy Land in Wavertree, echoed Ian’s comments.

She said: “It is very upsetting and we are very disappointed. It seems that adults are allowed to exercise, but children are not.

“Our daughters have been working really hard to organize our next Halloween sessions and this is the only main event we have hosted. It was overtime for the girls and they needed it, business being slow at the moment.

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“I just feel like it’s all of a sudden, I only discovered it on social media, so it was poorly communicated. ”

And Funtown manager in Garston, Gemma Robertson, said: “It’s one of those things, going in and finding out about the news is quite shocking, especially because it was not discussed in relation to Merseyside.

“We tell people to book in advance and now all those bookings will have to be canceled. Our Halloween party for next Saturday was sold out, so it’s very frustrating. “

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