Swim England has launched an #OpenOurPools campaign after the government failed to announce a date for the reopening of swimming pools in England when announcing the easing of other Coronavirus restrictions on Tuesday.
Boris Johnson announced the easing of a range of Coronavirus restrictions in England from July 4, including the reopening of pubs, restaurants, cinemas, hotels and hairdressers. However, the Prime Minister said that some settings will need to remain closed for now, including indoor gyms, swimming pools, spas, nightclubs and bowling alleys.
Many had originally believed that pools and indoor gyms across the country would be allowed to reopen from 4 July, however, the Prime Minister said on Tuesday that this would not be the case.
Swim England’s chief executive Jane Nickerson has expressed her ‘dismay and frustration‘ at the decision by the government to not allow pools to reopen, calling it an ‘appalling decision’.
Olympic gold medallist Adam Peaty has now joined calls for the Prime Minister to explain why swimming pools will not be reopening as part of the latest easing of lockdown measures. Writing on Twitter, the Olympian said, “Please @BorisJohnson give us a reason why pools will be one of the last things to open?”.
Other top athletes including double Olympic champion Rebecca Adlington have also expressed their dismay at the decision. On social media, ‘Gyms’ was trending on Tuesday afternoon as people expressed their dismay at indoor gyms staying closed.
Swim England has recently released extensive guidance to pool operators, users and clubs in preparation for the reopening of pools when allowed by the government.
According to Swim England, aquatic activity helps to save the health and social care system more than £357 million a year. Sport can bring significant physical benefits but can also help with mental health, which has been a key issue for many during the lockdown.
Ms Nickerson, Swim England chief executive said;
“By ignoring the swimming sector in the latest easing of lockdown, the Government has let down millions who rely on being in the water – from those who use pools for mental or physical health reasons, to our recreational swimmers and competitive club athletes.
“Thousands of workers in the sector and facilities across the country are also still in a state of limbo and this is simply unacceptable.
“Many will fail to understand how pubs, restaurants, cinemas, museums and hair salons have been given the go ahead to open on the 4 July but not chlorine-filled swimming pools.
“It appears that it is okay to sit on the couch watching professional sport, go out for a high calorie meal and then go to the pub but you can’t go for a swim, which provides a sanitised environment.”
Swim England’s #OpenOurPoolsCampaign is calling for the government to reconsider immediately the decision for pools to stay closed. The national governing body for swimming, diving, water polo, open water swimming, and synchronised swimming in England is calling on people to write to their MP, post on social media and sign their petition.
When asked about the campaign and pools remaining closed, a spokesperson for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said;
“We are continuing to work with representatives from the gym and leisure centre sectors on plans for a safe, phased reopening with the ambition for this to happen from mid-July, subject to public health guidance. We need to make sure that plans are comprehensive with all risks minimised. We are fully committed to making sure the public can exercise and stay healthy, as outlined in our guidance for outdoor exercise.”