Current plans show a gradual, phased opening of leisure centres, with measures being put into place for both staff and public safety.
Last week the Government announced measures that would allow outdoor pools to reopen from 11 July and indoor gyms, swimming pools and sports facilities to reopen from 25 July. They hope that these measures will allow millions of people to get back into more sport and fitness activities after months of being limited in fitness options.
The guidance, published by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, was compiled with input from the trade body ukactive, the Sport and Recreation Alliance, Sport England and other sports bodies, and in consultation with Public Health England and the Health and Safety Executive.
Established in 1993, GLL is the largest UK-based charitable social enterprise delivering leisure, health and community services. Under the consumer facing brand Better, the business operates 258 public Sports and Leisure facilities, 88 libraries, 10 children’s centres and 5 adventure playgrounds in partnership with 50 local councils, public agencies and sporting organisations
South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils are working with Better to agree to a re-opening plan for the leisure service that complies with the government guidance and meets the industry standards.
Cllr Helen Pighills Cabinet Member for Vale of White Horse District Council said:
“Lots of people have successfully found new and exciting ways to exercise during the lockdown, and we are keen to look into alternative exercise options in more detail for the future of leisure in the Vale. Our existing leisure centres are central to many people’s lives though, and so it’s good to be able to start re-opening them in a safe and controlled way”
As they all have different facilities and availability of space, each leisure centre in South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse is being assessed independently and reports will be compiled to outline any necessary changes to comply with new regulations.
It is not yet understood exactly when each location will open as the Council notes that each will require unique processes.
When the centres do re-open things will work differently at first. For example, the Council explains that many programmes and classes that were running before the Covid-19 pandemic will no longer be available. It is hoped that these classes will open at later dates as part of the gradual, phased reintroduction of services. Better leisure centres will be communicating to customers to advise specifically how each programme and access to activity will work.
Following discussions with Better, it has been decided that councils will be unable to open the outdoor splash pools and swimming pools in Abingdon and Wallingford this year, and this includes the campsite at Riverside.
The council run splash pads in Wantage will also remain closed this summer.
Cllr Maggie Filipova-Rivers Cabinet Member for South Oxfordshire District Council said:
“Councils up and down the country have the difficult balancing act of helping people stay active whilst doing so in the safest way possible. We have a key responsibility to help continue to control the virus, and so it is important not to rush the re-opening of any of our leisure facilities. We’re keen to get the centres back up and running, and we’re doing so based on the best advice and guidance”