Swimming pools at leisure centres around County Durham are set to reopen to the public next week.
Six Durham County Council-run facilities will be welcoming swimmers back from Monday (10 August), for the first time since being forced to close in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Sessions at the Louisa Centre, in Stanley; Freeman’s Quay, in Durham; and leisure centres in Chester-le-Street, Newton Aycliffe, Woodhouse Close and Teesdale; must be booked in advance.
Swimmers are also being advised to expect a number of changes to allow for social distancing and to reflect public health advice.
Activity will be limited to lane swimming throughout the week, with some family fun sessions at weekends and aqua fit classes. All children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult.
In order to limit the risk of spreading coronavirus, usual shower, changing and locker facilities will not be available. Instead, swimmers will be asked to wear their costumes under their clothes when arriving for their swim session. They will then be allocated a chair at the side of the pool where they can leave their clothes and any other belongings. Changing facilities will be available when exiting the pool.
Cllr Carl Marshall, Cabinet member for economic regeneration, said: “We’ve had a fantastic response since our leisure centres opened last month for fitness classes and gym sessions so we’re pleased to now be able to reopen our pools as well.
“Going for a swim is going to be a little different for the time being, but the changes we have made are extremely important in order to protect customers and staff and help prevent the spread of coronavirus. Without them we would not be able to reopen our pools.
“That said, I’m sure many people will be so pleased to get back in the pool that they will get used to the changes.
“It’s vital that we work to reinstate services wherever possible in order to support the county’s recovery from the pandemic.”
Ongoing maintenance work at Consett Pool means it will also remain closed for the time being. It is also not possible to reopen the pool at Spennymoor leisure centre at this time. The pool is not suitable for lane swimming, meaning effective social distancing measures cannot be introduced.
The council is in discussions with the contractor responsible for operating Peterlee Leisure Centre with regard to an opening date.
To book a session at a participating leisure centre, log into the Thrive app. Full details regarding the changes are also available at www.durham.gov.uk/leisure.