Swim England Chief Executive Jane Nickerson has written to the Prime Minister to ‘stress the urgent need’ to announce a date when swimming pools can reopen. The Government has hinted that leisure facilities will be able to open doors for business again following the Covid-19 lockdown around 4 July, but has yet to publish its guidance on how this will be implemented. However, it will take pool operators at least 14 days to get facilities ready for customers again, meaning that many could still be closed on 4 July even if the go-ahead to reopen has been given before then.
Swim England published its Returning to the Pool guidance on 16 June and has been working closely with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on the Government’s guidelines for reopening leisure facilities. Now the national governing body has called on Boris Johnson to provide some clarity to swimming pool operators and swim school teachers across the country.
In the letter, the Swim England CEO wrote: “There is growing frustration at the continued delay in publishing these guidelines, preventing swimming pool operators, swimming clubs, swim schools and other learn to swim providers from being able to fully prepare their businesses, staff and clients for reopening. Swimming pool operators and swim schools/teachers have been unable to trade for months and are unable to plan effectively in the absence of guidance outlining the conditions they will need to operate under. We understand the latest advice is that these services will not reopen until 4 July at the earliest but swimming pools need adequate time – at least two weeks – to redesign their premises, train staff, bring their swimming pool back up to operational standards, communicate with clients regarding operational changes, implement adequate hygiene standards and come to terms with the changes necessary to ensure the safety of themselves and their clients. We therefore urge you to publish the guidance without any further delay. We are available to provide any support necessary in order to ensure this outcome.”
Plea for additional financial support
Jane Nickerson has also reiterated the call for financial support to help the hundreds of pools that are at risk of staying shut even after restrictions are eased by Government. She wrote: “Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, the Government has rightly championed the importance of physical activity – this is a sentiment we wholeheartedly support. Before the lockdown, 14 million adults in England went swimming in the last year, making it one of the most popular activities. Swimming pools provide hubs of physical activity in communities up and down the country, generating huge social value for these areas. However, without urgent additional financial support, hundreds of swimming pools up and down the country will not be able to reopen, even when the Government declares it safe to do so, exacerbating health inequalities for the many people who find exercising on land difficult as a result of their health conditions. It is therefore vital that as well as the publication of guidance for leisure facilities, there is additional financial support for swimming pools.”