Millions of swimmers face frustration as 1,000 pools remain closed as operators’ funds dry up
- Four out of five swimming pools are still shut, according to Swim England
- Rule on how many can swim at a time means firms ‘will struggle to break even’
- Just 330 or so public pools out of 1,657 across England have actually reopened
Millions of swimmers face a frustrating wait to get back in the water as most public pools remain closed – even though they have been given the go-ahead to reopen.
Four out of five public pools are still shut, according to Swim England, because opening them up is ‘just not affordable’.
The four-month lockdown has battered bottom lines, said the campaign group, while new rules limiting how many people can swim at one time also mean operators will struggle to break even.
Swimmers are seen at the London Aquatic Centre which is re-open. Four out of five public pools are still shut, according to Swim England, because opening them up is ‘just not affordable’
Only 330 or so public pools out of 1,657 across England have reopened.
Many are now run by large social enterprises which each control scores of leisure centres.
One of them, GLL, runs around 160 Better Leisure sites – but so far it has only reopened 63 pools. Another operator, Everyone Active, opened 30 leisure centres yesterday but none of its 125 pools.
Some will start to reopen on Wednesday, although associate director Ben Beevers said this is ‘dependent on the centre’.
Millions of swimmers face a frustrating wait to get back in the water as most public pools remain closed – even though they have been given the go-ahead to reopen. The London Aquatics centre is seen above
Jane Nickerson, chief executive of Swim England, said: ‘It costs a lot to reopen a pool and with the pools shut for several months they’ve had absolutely no income during that time. The new guidance [limiting swimmer numbers] also means fewer people coming through the door, and they’ve got to pay the energy costs of reheating the pool and getting it back up to the right condition.
‘It’s just not affordable for many of them to do that at the moment.’
Meanwhile, the new law requiring shoppers to wear face coverings in stores has been causing friction among customers and staff.
A source at a major food retailer said: ‘We’ve had scores of instances of customers abusing each other for failing to wear masks. This is probably the tip of the iceberg.
‘Staff have also faced incidents of anti-social behaviour, verbal assaults and aggression. Some stores have reported more than half of customers were not wearing masks on Friday when the new law came into force.’
Sainsbury’s, Asda, Co-op and Morrisons have said they will not ask staff to make sure customers wear face coverings, while the Police Federation said it does not have the resources to enforce the law, which carries the threat of a £100 fine.
Meanwhile in Luton, Labour mayor Tahir Malik apologised after being photographed last Tuesday socialising at a party of about 12 men – double the maximum currently allowed to meet in gardens.
Meanwhile in Luton, Labour mayor Tahir Malik apologised after being photographed last Tuesday socialising at a party of about 12 men – double the maximum currently allowed to meet in gardens
Mr Malik was pictured sitting around a long table close to others, eating and talking. He and two other councillors who were also present said: ‘We apologise unreservedly to the people of Luton for our breach of the lockdown rules.’
They said more people than expected had arrived, meaning ‘the rules were breached’, adding: ‘We should have left immediately.’ The apology came shortly after they asked 250,000 town residents to stay at home due to concerns over surging infections.
Among the many gyms back in business yesterday was the David Lloyd health club in Hampton, South-West London, which opened at midnight. Television presenter Jeff Brazier, 41, who took advantage, said it was a ‘much-needed return to normality’.
David Lloyd has opened 87 of its 89 clubs, while Pure Gym opened 214 of 230 facilities.
l A further 25 people who tested positive for coronavirus have died in hospital in England, bringing the number of confirmed reported deaths in hospitals to 29,272.