Long Stratton leisure centre among those to have reopened with new rules as the sector fights for survival
With many leisure centres having reopened one week ago, their fight for survival is now under way, with customers having to adhere to new rules when using facilities.
Long Stratton is one of those to have reopened on July 25, while the reopening of Diss leisure centre will not happen until mid September.
The Covid-19 crisis has already hit leisure centres hard financially, but will also impact how customers use facilities now they are welcoming people back.
The following rules are now in place for all visitors to leisure centres in South Norfolk:
- Gym sessions must be pre-booked using the customers’ online account and can last no more than 75 minutes.
- Customers will be asked to initially limit their participation to either one gym session or class per day. Customers will be asked to book a session in one specific area.
- The changing rooms and showers will remain closed, so customers will be asked to arrive ready to train. Queuing and one-way systems are in place to allow customers to move around the building as safely as possible.
- Customers will be asked to agree to a new User Agreement that will help to ensure that everyone plays their part in keeping the centres as safe as possible.
The sector's restart comes as ukactive and Community Leisure UK warn that nearly half of all public leisure facilities in the UK face permanent closure by the end of the year, unless local authorities receive urgent ring-fenced funding from the government.
South Norfolk Councillor Alison Thomas described leisure centres reopening as "fantastic news," adding: “I want to thank the staff for the incredible work they’ve done to make sure our customers will be as safe as possible. It’s important that our members can exercise with confidence knowing that we have done all we can to protect them."
Councillor Dan Humphreys, District Council's Networks' lead member for enhancing quality of life, said: “It is great that gyms and leisure centres are able to reopen today – with safety for staff and users paramount. But they open on the brink, their income has plummeted over the lockdown and many face an uncertain future. This is why it is absolutely critical the Treasury comes up with a rescue package for leisure centres yet to receive financial support."
Recent figures from District Council's Networks reveal that leisure centres have taken a £180 million hit since lockdown began, with the sector forecast to lose over £300 million this year, putting many leisure centres at risk of closure.