The Speaker
Thursday, 18 July 2024 – 18:06
Swimming Pool

Financial concerns for parts of leisure sector as indoor gyms and pools start to reopen in England

Indoor gyms and swimming pools have started reopening in England as Coronavirus restrictions are eased.

Indoor gyms and pools have been closed in England since March and are opening later than other venues such as pubs and restaurants that started to reopen on July 4.

Those facilities that are starting to reopen will have to do so while following strict guidelines and hygiene practices to help reduce the risk of a rise in COVID-19 Coronavirus infections.

Indoor gyms began reopening in Northern Ireland two weeks ago – they remain closed in Wales and Scotland.

Face coverings aren’t required in most gyms, however, social distancing means some equipment may have been moved and there may be fewer stations available for use than usual. Some leisure centres are requiring members of the public to book in advance before using their facilities – each facility is likely to have slightly different rules and measures in place.

While some gyms and pools are reopening, some remain closed. Some venues will open over the coming weeks as part of a phased approach to reopening, however, there are fears that many venues could stay closed for the longer term – or even permanently. 

The leisure sector, like many sectors, has struggled financially during the months of lockdown and especially for some smaller venues, bouncing back will not be particularly easy. In most cases, social distancing will reduce the number of people that can use facilities, resulting in falling revenues for already struggling leisure operators. Some members of the public are also apprehensive about heading back to the gym or pool, with some not convinced about the health and safety measures being put in place.

Swim England’s chief executive Jane Nickerson has said that many will be left frustrated today, with less than 20% of publicly-owned facilities thought to be reopening their pools today. 

Earlier this week, Jane Nickerson met with the Minister for Sport Nigel Huddleston, warning that an injection of cash is required to ensure that hundreds of pools don’t close for good. The closure of venues could see significant job losses and also make it less easy for people to stay active and healthy by participating in sport.

Speaking earlier this week, Ms Nickerson said;

“Pools are incredibly valuable. They give people of all ages the chance to earn a vital life skill, offer those struggling with physical impairments the opportunity to exercise freely and also help save the NHS and social care system millions of pounds every year.

“It is vital this money is made available so our swim schools, our swimming, diving, artistic swimming and water polo clubs plus millions of recreational swimmers can return to the activities they love.

Governing bodies for each sport, like Swim England, have released guidance for venues, their staff and members of the public as venues begin to reopen to help try and keep everyone safe at venues during the Coronavirus pandemic.

It seems that the lockdown over recent months, the restrictions and safety guidelines now being put in place may all make some people’s exercising experiences slightly strange or less enjoyable – though, for some venues, the financial impacts of lockdown and now social distancing may make it very difficult for them to open anytime soon. 


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