Published: 15:09, 24 July 2020
| Updated: 15:22, 24 July 2020
A trust has announced which parts of two of its leisure centres will reopen tomorrow for the first time in four months.
But, with the ease on restrictions for indoor sports and fitness centres, both will once again welcome customers from this weekend.
At Sheppey Leisure Complex, the gym, cardio suite and swimming pool will reopen tomorrow, but its health studio will remain closed.
Dave Harcourt, chief executive of Swale Community Leisure (SCL), the trust that runs the facility, along with The Swallows, said: "It’s great to be back. The last four months have been tough times for the industry but we’re raring to go, ready to help the people of Sheppey and the surrounding areas get active again."
He added: "The decision to keep the health studio closed for the time being was made purely from a safety perspective and carefully considers the wellbeing of its users.
"The government’s tight guidelines around air ventilation mean we cannot safely open that part of the centre at present. However, we will be monitoring this situation closely, and as soon as it is safe for customers and employees, we will reopen this very popular part of the complex."
Over at The Swallows, customers will be able to use the gym and attend workout classes from tomorrow, but the centre's swimming pool, a studio and the sports hall will stay shut.
These closures are to allow for the ongoing repair works to the pool building’s roof, which was severely damaged by storm Ciara back in February.
Mr Harcourt said SCL was delighted to be reopening, even if only in part.
He added: "The lockdown meant our roof repair project was slowed down due to reduced access to contractors, but the time has not been wasted. Working with Swale council, we’ve used this period to work through a tendering process. A contractor has been appointed and work is due to start at the beginning of August.
"We are hoping the whole site will be open for everyone from around November. We appreciate our customers’ and colleagues’ patience during this difficult period.”
In preparation for the reopening of both centres, Mr Harcourt said a series of social distancing measures had been put in place "to ensure customer and employee safety", including smaller workout class sizes, more space between equipment and a "ramped-up" cleaning schedule.
Cllr Angela Harrison, Swale council's cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: “It’s great the leisure centres can now reopen their doors, even if they’re limited in how many people they can welcome back straight away.
"The leisure centre staff have worked hard to get ready in the short time since the guidance came out, and I’m grateful to them for getting us another step towards the new normal.
“The measures in place will help make sure that people feel safe coming back to get their exercise and improve their health and wellbeing.”