Hard grind for skaters

By Michael Roberts | posted on May 15, 2020

ALBANY teenagers say they’ve been left behind by Phase 1 and 2 of the State Government’s plan to relax restrictions, with one of their main hangout spots still out of bounds.

Unlike most other states, WA went against Federal Government recommendations to open skate parks and playgrounds in the first stage of Australia’s COVID-19 recovery.

Skate parks and BMX tracks will reopen in Queensland and New South Wales on Friday, despite having some of the highest case numbers of COVID-19 in the nation.

Pubs and restaurants can open up on Monday in WA, but board riders might have to wait a month to get back in the bowl when the State Government moves to Phase 3 of its recovery plan.

Premier Mark McGowan said Government considered opening hospitality venues a safer option than allowing skate parks to be used again.

“The thing about skate parks and playgrounds is there is very sparse cleaning, if any, and you don’t know who’s been there before you,” he said.

“Whereas in a cafe or restaurant you can trace who will be there because you’ll be required, if you’re going to go and have a meal, that you write your name and phone number so we can trace that.”

But Albany skater Rylie Owens said it was ridiculous to open pubs but not skate parks where there is minimal, if any, contact between riders as everyone had their own equipment.

While skate parks remain shut, Mr Owens said it affected his mental health.

“It’s a happy place,” he said.

“People look at us as a bunch of delinquents who use drugs and cause trouble, but that’s just not right.

“We hang out and do what adults do. It’s just about catching up, just in a different way.”

BMX rider Cheyenne Ashton said she felt like teenagers had been left out of the conversation of which restrictions should be relaxed.

“We don’t have a voice,” she said.

“They’ve cancelled a lot of our options to go outside.”