While we are keen to re-open the facilities we operate at the earliest opportunity, our priority is always to be a socially responsible business that puts the safety of our staff and our customers first.
A reopening date of early to mid-July in some locations seems very achievable and will give us the time to reconfigure our leisure facilities and retrain our staff in new ways of working. What will also be crucial is building trust so that when you are able to visit our leisure centres again, you are confident the measures we have put in place will keep you and your loved ones safe.
We don't underestimate the value of what we do as leisure providers. Both in terms of helping individuals with their physical and mental wellbeing, but also providing a space for community-based clubs, teams and societies. Our centres support some of society’s most vulnerable: those with physical or mental disabilities, who are socially isolated or require physical rehabilitation.
We are concerned that the re-opening of swimming pools may be delayed and are calling on the Government to reconsider its decision. Swimming pool water is chlorine treated and thus Covid free; although we will need new rules to ensure Customer safety in the changing areas and on poolside. Swimming is the UK’s most popular mass participation sport and learning to swim means acquiring a vital life skill.
As we operate community leisure centres we have a great deal of scope to adapt and refocus, with many centres situated on large sites and providing sports halls, tennis and squash courts, running tracks and outdoor exercising areas. That means that we are fortunate to have the scope to reconfigure the spaces we have and more easily implement social distancing.
We are already exploring adaptations that we could make. For example, moving exercises classes into the open air, reducing the amount of equipment within gym areas, or relocating it into sports halls, having an advance booking system that limits the number of visitors to a leisure centre at any one time and closing early to allow for daily deep cleaning.
We are currently offering free online fitness classes and exercises via our Better UK app. and we will continue to do so. We envisage a migration back to centre-based activities over the coming months as the UK gradually comes out of lockdown and consumer confidence in public facilities and spaces grows.
We are doing everything we can to prepare for a safe and socially responsible approach, so that we will be able to welcome you back to our centres very soon.
Together we're stronger - and we would like to thank you for your continued support.