Are swimming pools now open? Date leisure centres can reopen in England as lockdown rules relaxed
Swimming pools closed when the country entered lockdown, but have they now reopened?
If you’re a keen swimmer and eager to get back in your local pool, then you don’t have to wait any longer as they have now reopened.
Here’s everything you need to know.
When will swimming pools open?
Pools closed their doors on Saturday 21 March, but both outdoor and indoor pools have now reopened.
However, Swim England notes that not all pools will open their doors straight away, as some may take longer than others to get facilities running again.
When the Government announced a date for the reopening of pools, Jane Nickerson, Swim England Chief Executive, said: “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.”
Swim England has also praised “the incredible patience and support of the aquatics community”, after swimming pools were finally given the green light to reopen.
The announcement as to when pools could reopen was made 16 days after Swim England launched its #OpenOurPools campaign. This was backed by tens of thousands of people across the country, with almost 55,000 signing the petition calling on the Government to reconsider its decision not to open pools when hotels, restaurants, pubs and cinemas reopened on 4 July.
Members of the public are also able to swim in the sea or lakes, but a one metre distancing rule has to be observed outside of your family unit.
What safety measures are in place for swimming?
Swim England previously issued its Returning to the Pool advice, ahead of the Government giving the green light for the public to return to swimming pools.
Included in the documents are recommendations for operators, casual swimmers, lane swimming, family-fun sessions, club activity, teachers and those attending swimming lessons.
The national governing body explains that, “The guidance is based on the latest scientific advice and Government guidelines and will be updated to reflect any changes announced in the future.
“It has been developed following lengthy consultation with Public Health England, Sport England, leisure operators, home country partners and a panel of representatives from clubs, swim schools, volunteers and other key stakeholders across the country, including medical professionals.”
Ms Nickerson thanked everyone who had contributed to the in-depth guidance.
She said: “We have all been missing the water during the Covid-19 enforced closure of swimming pools.
“Swim England is therefore delighted to be able to produce this guidance to help ensure the safe return to the water once swimming pools are allowed to open again.”
Swim England had been providing initial guidance to the government throughout the lockdown period on how to reopen more than 4,000 of the country’s swimming pools.
Richard Lamburn, Swim England Head of Facilities, previously explained, “A lot of pools have never closed before so we’ve been providing the guidance and support needed to local authorities and operators to ensure they were safely shut down and maintained.
“The science and understanding of Covid-19 in the swimming pool environment is evolving every day and we are continuing to monitor and support research in this area in cooperation with international partners.”
It’s likely that when pools do reopen, fewer swimmers will be allowed in at a once - and for less time. Measures such as making sure changing rooms are intensively cleaned are now in place at many pools.
Virgin Active said: “We're excited to welcome you back into your club on 25 July. We've missed you in our clubs and can’t wait to once again bring you our top notch exercise experiences.”
The fitness club has introduced new measures to keep customers and staff safe, explaining that “The changing rooms will be a focal area for our intensive cleaning efforts. Follow our floor markers to maintain appropriate social distancing and allow yourself and your fellow members space while using the changing room facilities.”
"Based on the Government guidelines, signs will be posted indicating restrictions for the water fountains, steam rooms and saunas,” added Virgin Active.
Indoor gyms are also able to reopen from 25 July. Safety measures in gyms include spacing out equipment, limiting the number of people using a facility at one time and reducing class sizes. However, face coverings will not be mandatory in gyms.