St Helens Borough Council leisure facilities will reopen to the public from Monday 27 July as part of a phased return, with a number of measures in place to keep visitors and staff safe.
All council-maintained leisure centres closed on Friday 20 March in adherence to government guidelines to prevent the spread of coronavirus – however Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, recently announced that these types of services can reopen from Saturday 25 July as part of the country’s recovery from COVID-19.
The reopening will be done over three phases.
Phase one: Monday 27 July
Parr Swimming and Fitness Centre will open its gym, and both Queens Park and Newton-le-Willows Health and Fitness will open their gyms and exercise classes.
Phase 2: Monday 3 August
· Queens Park and Newton-le-Willows Health and Fitness will open their swimming pools.
Phase 3: Monday 10 August
· Ruskin Sports Village, Sutton Leisure Centre and Newton-le-Willows-Health and Fitness will open their outdoor facilities (grass pitches, artificial turf pitches and track)
· Sutton Leisure Centre, Queens Park and Newton-le-Willows Health and Fitness will open their sports halls.
To ensure members of the public continue to encounter a safe experience on their visit to a St Helens Borough leisure centre, a series of measures have been introduced, such as pre-booked visits only; one way systems; Perspex screens on reception counters; and sanitising stations thought the facilities.
Meanwhile, all transactions have been moved to cashless – and to limit the number of face to face interactions, all gym inductions will be made available through online video tutorials, with membership sign up also moved to this method.
Toilet access will be available – but on Government advice, changing rooms will only be available to customers with disabilities and additional needs for the time being.
At this point in time, no date has been set for recommencing swimming lessons or opening Willowbees Adventure Play, based at Newton-le-Willows Health and Fitness.
Following the success of its online content, Go Active – which has more than 7,000 registered members – will also continue to offer its online class content which has proved popular over the past few months, with thousands of people taking part in various fitness classes suitable for all abilities.
St Helens Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Health, Leisure, Libraries, Arts and Heritage, Councillor Anthony Burns, said: “It is recognised nationally the key role sport and physical activity will play in the recovery from this pandemic.
“It is a key priority for the council helping people in our communities to improve their physical and mental health. Our leisure centres are central to this aim and provide an excellent environment to help keep us physically and mentally healthy.
“Our leisure centres welcome more than a million visitors a year, generating much needed income to the council, so I’m delighted that a number of our facilities will be reopening their doors in a phased return as we adapt to the ‘new normal.’
“Speaking of adaptation, our leisure service staff have been sensational throughout this pandemic, continuing to provide a quality service which has seen a huge uptake in virtual classes via social media.
“The amount of positive feedback we have had about this is fantastic – while many of the Go Active team have also been involved with the community hub which in itself is inspirational.
“Members of the public are certainly in safe hands when visiting our leisure centres, which is largely down to the genuinely caring and dedicated team we have in place – and we look forward to welcoming you down once again.”
Since leisure centres closed in March, the council has carried out improvement and upgrade works at a number of its sites – while design work has also commenced for the recommissioning of the swimming pool at Sutton Leisure Centre.