What will gyms and swimming pools be like when they reopen in England?
Sports facilities and indoor gyms in England may have a different look and feel when they reopen later this month with tight restrictions.
New government guidance means outdoor pools can reopen from July 11 and that indoor gyms, swimming pools and sports facilities can be back in business from July 25.
What can reopen and when?
It means that organised outdoor team sports can come back into play, provided they have guidance from the relevant sport’s national governing body, and that outdoor waterparks and swimming pools, hot tubs, hydrotherapy pools, whirlpools, jacuzzis plus sport and physical activity participation events can open to the public from July 11.
Indoor gyms and swimming pools, fitness and dance studios, sports venues and facilities and can reopen from July 25.
What will be different?
Safety measures now start from home as all venues should encourage users to arrive in their sports kit and try to change and shower at home, the guidance says.
The preferred option is that the use of showers and changing rooms should be avoided, but they will have to be available for people with disabilities or special needs.
The guidance also says that venues should “ensure that steps are taken to avoid people needing to unduly raise their voices to each other”.
It adds: “This includes – but is not limited to – refraining from playing music or broadcasts that may encourage shouting, including if played at a volume that makes normal conversation difficult.
"This is because of the potential for increased risk of transmission – particularly from aerosol and droplet transmission.”
What about capacity?
The number of people using a facility at any one time should be limited and users will have to book a slot to workout.
There will be reduced class sizes and enough time will have to be allowed between each class to avoid groups waiting outside during changeover.
Under the government guidance, fitness rooms will have to be adapted so that equipment is spaced out and some taken out of service so that social distancing can be maintained.
Cleaning will be stepped up
Everyone should see enhanced cleaning and hand sanitising being offered throughout venues, which may now have queue management or one-way systems.
Adequate ventilation is a must and using outdoor spaces for individual, team or group activities is encouraged, while exercise or dance studios may sport temporary floor markings to help people stay distanced during classes.
Another no-go zone is the use of shared items such as towels, robes, balls, weights, rackets, balls and scoring equipment, which have to be cleaned or sanitised between users.
What about swimming pools?
Under the guidance, swimming pools should aim to restrict numbers to allow three square metres per bather.
Saunas and steam rooms will have to stay out of use for the time being while flumes at swimming pools should only reopen if they are used in line with social distancing measures.
What happens is a user develops coronavirus?
All venues are also expected to collect personal details of each user, such as name, address, telephone numbers plus date and times of entry and exit, to potentially help with tracing if there is a Covid-19 outbreak linked to the facility.
Limits may also have to be placed on the number of classes that visiting instructors, coaches, teachers, and management are involved with across different sports venues in order to try to bolster safety.
Jude Matthews, the chief executive of the British Eventing sports governing body, said people will now have to “arrive, compete, leave”.
There needs to be the minimum number of people on site and they will have to be there for the shortest time possible or “you risk your sport”, she warned.
She said: “You still need to adhere to Government guidance in terms of gathering size and social distancing.”
Leisure centres and indoor gyms, along with swimming pools and other indoor sports facilities, have been closed since March 21.
What about the rest of the UK?
Gyms in Northern Ireland will reopen from Friday.
The Welsh and Scottish governments have not yet set dates for when leisure facilities will reopen.