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Scott Steepleton, Editor
6:38 am PDT May 24, 2020

Construction zones. Crash scenes. At either end of the block when a bad guy barricades himself in a house.

These are the places you’d expect to see caution tape. However, these days the yellow plastic streamers are most often found on the playground, a place where children go to have a good time, forget about class for a time and, often at parents’ urging, to burn off some energy.

Take a walk at Malibu Bluffs Park and you see some serious application of the stuff at the fenced-in playground behind the Michael Landon Community Center. The most wonderful assembly of equipment for climbing, sliding and hiding has been off-limits for months over fears that touching it spreads the novel coronavirus.

Caution tape, warning signs and barricades tell you to stay away.

Down the sidewalk toward the ocean is another piece of equipment, which propels you from one end to the other, kind of like a zipline. Just don’t think about using it right now, because it, too, is cordoned off with caution tape.

The handle comes in for special treatment, wrapped tight like a mummy in the stuff.

It’s a similar scene at Malibu Country Mart, where the playground, complete with slides, a “captain loft” and swings, is closed behind caution tape.

What must kids be thinking when they see these images? Hopefully it’s not that playground equipment and playing with others is to be feared in general.

If there is a silver lining to this, it’s that parents can’t just go to those places and let the equipment do the babysitting while they spend time looking at their cellphone. They must interact with their kids like never before, passing a soccer ball, tossing a baseball or explaining what the lockout's all about, and assuring them it’s only temporary.

That’s what I saw a lot of happening Saturday at Malibu Bluffs Park: parents and kids having fun together, while off in the distance, caution tape makes it clear that playground equipment was not to be touched beach other could fall ill, or worse.

To think the only fear about playground equipment many people had growing up was whether they’d make it to the top and back without breaking an arm.

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