Outdoor Pools Can Open In England On Saturday 11 July: Indoor Pools To Resume From 25 July

pool
Photo Courtesy: pixabay.com

Outdoor swimming pools can reopen from Saturday 11 July in England with indoor pools able to open their doors again from Monday 11 July, the Government has announced.

The announcement – which many felt was long overdue – was made by Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

hathersage

Hathersage Swimming Pool: Photo Courtesy: Liz Byrnes

He said in a press conference:

“Today there is good news for our nation’s fitness. As we all know exercise is incredibly important for both physical and mental health.

“Even at the height of the lockdown it was considered an essential activity with countless people hitting their parks for their daily run or transforming their living rooms into temporary gyms.

“From this weekend onwards millions of people will be able to rejoin their local sports teams as soon as their organisations publish approved guidance.

“From this Saturday they will be able to enjoy outdoor pools and water parks.

“From Saturday 25 people will no longer have to work out in their park or living room floor, they’ll be able to get back into their gyms, their indoor swimming pools, their leisure centres and jump on that spin bike or treadmill for the first time in months.”

Venues must observe social distancing before, during and after participation.

It follows over a fortnight of intense lobbying by Swim England after Prime Minister Boris Johnson gave the green light for pubs, restaurants, hair salons, cinemas and museums to open for business once again from last Saturday, July 4 only for pools to be overlooked.

Swim England CEO Jane Nickerson had called for scientific evidence as to why they remained closed while the #OpenOurPools campaign was launched following the news last month which won backing from past and present Olympic champions Becky Adlington and Adam Peaty.

A petition collected more almost 55,000 signatures which was then handed to the Government and last week a delegation of Government and public health officials were shown how facilities can operate safely with a tour of four pools, indoor and outdoor.

Swim England

Photo Courtesy: Swim England

Nickerson said in response to Thursday’s announcement:

“This is a victory for the people who have been desperate to get back into the water for several months.

“Their frustration has been understandable but they have shown incredible patience and resolve. We celebrate alongside them the fact they can soon start enjoying the activities they love once again.

“When we needed their support, they backed us in their tens of thousands – and we can’t thank them enough for that.

“We know that pools need time to get their facilities up and running again after being closed for so long. Many outdoor pools will not be ready to open from this weekend and some indoor pools may not be ready to open on 25 July, so we’d ask swimmers to remain patient a little while longer.”

Peaty, the Olympic 100m breaststroke champion, posted on social media, saying:

While the news is more than welcome, the future of many leisure facilities are under threat with Huw Edwards, chief executive of trade body ukactive, warning they needed a £800m (over one billion US dollars) cash injection.

Edwards told the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee (DCMS) that his trade body, which represents leisure centres and facility operators, estimated around a third of facilities would not be able to reopen when allowed.

The bailout would be essential to cover the losses they have incurred since closing in March and to sustain them in the short to medium term.

There are 5,000 public pools in England and there are fears that as many as 500 could close permanently.

Nickerson renewed her call for the Government to provide financial help for pools that are at risk of permanent closure by ensuring there is ring-fenced funding for swimming pools and leisure facilities.

She said:

“Now we know when pools can start to reopen, our focus turns to fighting for those facilities that are facing an uncertain future due to financial difficulties caused by the lockdown to curb this awful pandemic.

“Aquatic activity has been proven to improve people’s physical and mental health, helping save the health and social care system more than £357 million a year.

“We realise the public purse is under considerable pressure but spending money now to help keep pools open rather than letting them close down forever will help save millions in the long-term.

“Even before this outbreak, we were forecasting a shortage of facilities over the next 10-20 years and this problem will only be exacerbated by the loss of pools as a result of Covid-19.

“These pools are an integral and important part of every community and we’ll do everything we can to help ensure that remains the case.”

 


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