THREE of Liverpool’s leisure centres are getting ready to open their doors to welcome members back following the coronavirus lockdown.
From Monday 3 August, the council-backed Lifestyle leisure centres will be back in business as part of a phased return. Liverpool City Council’s network of 14 leisure centres closed when the coronavirus lockdown began on Monday 16 March.
The move comes at the same time as national public health advice which suggests that a healthy, active lifestyle and weight loss could help to build resilience against Covid-19.
Liverpool Aquatics Centre in Wavertree, Garston Leisure Centre and Alsop Leisure Centre in Walton are the first three to re-open following extensive modifications and staff training to ensure the venues are Covid-secure. Group fitness classes will also begin at one of LCC partner school sites Cardinal Heenan Leisure Centre, West Derby, on the same day.
The centres have been chosen because they have layouts which staff have been able to quickly adapt to new social distancing measures. Staff from the centres that remain closed will be drafted in to support the opening. Other centres will re-open following the success of the first phase.
Gym sessions and coached classes will start at these venues on August 3, with a planned re-opening of swimming pools a week later on Monday 10 August. Sports courts and pitches at the three venues will remain closed for the time being.
Leisure centre members will have to book online before turning up to a venue. Each member can spend up to 90 minutes in the gym or an hour in the pool. Numbers in group exercise sessions will be restricted to ensure that social distancing can be observed.
Members will be expected to queue to enter a leisure centre and one-way systems have been introduced throughout. Hand sanitisers will be available and equipment will be cleaned after every session. Face masks will not be required but customers and staff are welcome to wear them for personal re-assurance. Toilets will be open but customers will be requested to attend “ready for exercise” for dry-side activities as dry-side changing will remain closed for now. Customers for wet-side activities will be expected to arrive “beach ready” with costumes already underneath clothes, One-to-one personal training sessions will be available at the Aquatics Centre.
Memberships for Lifestyles were frozen when lockdown began and once the leisure centres re-open they will remain frozen for the month of August . However, fees will be reduced by 50 per cent and re-instated from Tuesday 1 September to reflect the fact that Lifestyles is not offering a full service.
During the lockdown, Lifestyles surveyed its 10,000 members about returning to the centres.
More than half of those who responded (57 per cent) said they would be willing to return immediately. Some 71 per cent said they would be willing to use a different club, with 84 per cent saying they would be willing to book a time slot for a chosen activity.
Lifestyles Operations Manager Mark Lancaster said: “We have chosen to open the initial leisure centres because the layouts made them the quickest and easiest to adapt to the new conditions. We have also had to enlist staff from the other leisure centres to support us at these three venues to help accommodate the extra cleaning and class supervision.
“Our staff have undergone extensive training during the lockdown and the safety of both our customers and colleagues remains our top priority.”
Liverpool City Council’s Deputy Mayor and Cabinet Member for Culture, Tourism and Events, Cllr Wendy Simon, said: “We have listened to our lifestyle members during the lockdown and acted upon what they have told us. We know that so many of you value the importance of regular physical exercise and are keen to return to your favourite activity. We also know that the vast majority of our members view cleanliness and other safety measures as extremely important. It is for both of these reasons that we must get the re-opening of our leisure centres right the first time. With the school summer holidays upon us we know how important these facilities are to our communities.
“Our staff are working hard to make sure we can re-open safely and we will be asking for co-operation from our members as well.
“Please abide by the rules, stay safe and bear with us. We look forward to welcoming our members back on Monday 3 August.”