You may already be aware that we started to reopen our indoor leisure facilities from Wednesday 15 July 2020 onwards, starting with our fitness suites and group exercise classes. We want to thank all our customers for supporting us over the last few months, thank you to those who have returned so far and also to all of our staff who have been working hard to get your leisure centres ready to reopen safely.
We are delighted to announce that we will be starting to reopen our swimming pools within Mid Ulster District Council from 7 August 2020.
Things may be a little different for when you return swimming, but rest assured these new operations are put in place to ensure the highest standards of health and safety so you can enjoy your activities in your Mid Ulster District Council leisure facilities with peace of mind.
What cleaning procedures will you have in place?
Pool areas are being cleaned prior to opening to the public and we will have regular cleaning procedures in place which are appropriate to each facility. Also before reopening, all staff will undertake revised training to ensure best practice.
We will be working hard to follow government and industry Covid-19 guidelines and we have processes in place to maintain cleanliness and aid social distancing. We will be asking all customers that attend our facilities to follow our ‘wiping down’ policy, and reinforced messages will be on display throughout our facilities.
Until a vaccination or treatment for Covid-19 is found there are always risks when undertaking any activity. However, swimming pools are well managed spaces with numerous risk control measures in place and research shows us there is no increased risk for contracting Covid-19 from swimming in chlorinated pools.
Our water management systems have been reviewed with recent changes to government regulations to continue to meet a high standard of safety. All our pools are disinfected with chlorine in line with the highest industry standards.
Chlorine-based disinfectants are very effective against a wide range of viruses and bacteria. They work with bacteria cells by collapsing proteins, causing the bacteria to die.
Will you provide customers with hand washing/sanitisation stations?
Yes; hand sanitisation stations will be available within our facilities, though we still advise customers to follow current government guidelines and to wash their hands thoroughly and regularly with soap and water and/or hand sanitiser.
Will toilet facilities be available in reopened facilities?
Yes; although, as with all areas in our facilities, social distancing measures to include maximum room occupancy numbers will be in place.
Do I need to wear a mask in leisure facilities?
Current Executive guidance does not advise that face masks are worn within leisure facilities - if this advice changes, we will follow government guidelines and let you know what you’ll need to do.
Will I have to book to attend facilities?
Yes; you can book your swimming sessions via our Leisure Hub and by telephoning your chosen Leisure Centre. This may change in the coming weeks in line with Government regulations.
During the initial reopening phase, swimming sessions will be available for 60 minute slots with 30 minute gaps in between to allow us to clean, replenish our customer cleaning/sanitiser stations and to get ready for the next timeslot.
There will be a maximum number of swim spaces available per 60 minute slot and this is to ensure social distancing measures can be achieved, as well as giving you the comfort of knowing your space is guaranteed, and the reassurance that there will be a limited number of other customers using the facility as the same time as you.
Will a full timetable of swimming activities be available at the facility?
Upon reopening, we’ll be operating at reduced capacity due to social distancing measures and we may be unable to offer the full timetable of services and activities which were available pre-lockdown.
Activities, timetables and maximum numbers for booking will be confirmed via our website, social media and booking portal.
Steam rooms, saunas and Jacuzzis won’t be available for now.
What about Swimming Lessons?
Swimming lessons won’t start just yet, but we do hope to restart these again at some point during September and we’ll let you know what are arrangements are closer to the time.
Arriving at our Centres
• Please don’t enter if you are experiencing any symptoms of Covid-19 – please isolate at home until it is safe to return
• Ensure you sanitise your hands at the sanitiser station provided
• Social distancing will be outlined with floor markings and signage
• Check-in at reception to confirm your booking
• We have installed new hygiene screens at our reception desks
• Prepare to make on-site payments using contactless where possible
• Swipe your card at the turnstiles. Please don’t touch it with your hands – instead push through using your legs
• Please observe one-way systems and follow directional signage
• All swimming sessions will be limited to 60 minutes. The 60 minute slot includes an allowance for safe arrival, movement through the centre, your time in the pool, and leaving the premises
• You will not be allowed to move from one activity to another activity during the initial re-opening phase, so for example, you won’t be able to go from the gym and then into the swimming pool within the same 60 minute visit
• Have received extensive training in relation to managing Covid-19 in the workplace and enhanced cleaning and hygiene protocols
• Will not be allowed to present for work if they are experiencing symptoms of Covid-19
• Will be practising social distancing while working
• Please be patient and kind to our staff, while they too are adjusting to these new measures
Using Our Swimming Pool
• Things may look and feel different, but it is all in the interest of your safety and having a great swimming experience
• We have reduced capacities in all of our swimming pools and activities will be organised differently. Swimmers will be admitted in a regulated order based on session start times
• Make your swim part of your #staycation and as you would on holiday, shower before you visit and arrive beach ready with your swimming costume already on underneath your clothes, all set to dive in from the poolside
• We kindly ask you to go straight to the pool when you arrive, and get ready to enter the pool at poolside, where an area will be available to leave your belongings. Changing rooms will be available after your swim for you to use to towel dry before you depart - this limits the time spent in changing rooms, and helps you to social distance from others
• Equipment won’t be available, so you’ll need to bring your own equipment, like googles and floats, if you have them and please make sure they are clean and identifiable as yours before you arrive
• Make sure to bring an extra towel – our hairdryers are not available just at the moment, as they can move water vapour through the air
• Arrive as close to your start time as possible so we only have people at the pool when needed - this also helps with social distancing
• We’re asking for just one parent/guardian per child to keep crowding in our pools to a minimum
• We have introduced double lane widths so please look out for the maximum capacities for each of the pool areas
• When you are in the pool remember to leave a gap between you and other swimmers, and keep to your allocated lane. Follow the same direction of travel when lane swimming so as to avoid side by side lane swimming with the swimmers beside you. Please do not overtake whilst swimming. Before pushing off at each turn, check to see if anyone faster is approaching
• Whether stopping for a rest or catching your breath after completing your swim, please be mindful that others using the lane will want to keep on swimming without stopping; so keep yourself to the edge of the lane allowing others to turn at the wall, turning your head away and allowing others to maintain social distancing measures. We’ve increased spacing in the pool so that it will be easy for you to do this
• Please remember that people of different standards and abilities will use the pool. Please respect their right to enjoy their swim
• Look out for one-way only floor markings and signs at pool side and when getting in and out of the pool to show you where to go
• In common areas, look out for signage to remind you what you can do to help us maintain a safe environment for everyone
• Stay hydrated by bringing your own ‘pre-filled’ water bottle on to poolside during your swim - water fountains will not be available at this time
• Pool pods and hoists will be available for customers who require them. Please speak with staff as you attend the facility to be given access
• Avoid going to or touching areas or equipment you do not need to
• Use hand sanitiser dispensers regularly and wash hands regularly where possible
Leaving our Centres
• Observe any one-way systems in place
• Follow directional signage to exit by designated routes
• Ensure you sanitise your hands at the sanitiser station provided
What about my membership?
On 16 March 2020, Council closed all of its leisure facilities as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Until resumption of leisure services, it was agreed that:
• All direct debit memberships for memberships and swimming lessons were suspended until further notice.
• Direct Debits would not recommence until facilities are operational again and members have received the appropriate extensions to their membership.
• All ‘paid in full’ members (includes monthly to annual Memberships) would have their membership term extended to reflect the closure
Therefore, all memberships resumed on the 15 July 2020 under the following arrangements:
• Direct debit customers can resume use of the facility from 15 July onwards and their next payment will not be due to be collected until 1 or 15 September 2020 depending on their normal collection date
• For direct debit customers, the period 15 July – 31 August 2020 will reflect “time owed” as a result of the closure of leisure facilities on 16 March and an additional period to allow for phased re-opening restrictions
• All existing paid in advance customer accounts became “active” again on the 15 July 2020
• For paid in advance customers (1 month, 3 month, 6 month, 12 month) who still had an active account at 16 March 2020, where a membership was due to expire from the 16 March onwards, the appropriate pro-rata extension will be applied for the duration of time from the 16 March 2020 to their expiry date to also include an additional 31 days (15 July – 14 Aug) to allow for phased re-opening restrictions
• Where customers are not yet ready to come back but wish to retain their memberships, they can make applications to their leisure centre to freeze their payments from September 2020 up a maximum of 3 months until they are ready to resume – to be processed locally at each leisure centre
Nothing is more important than the health and safety of our customers and staff. We have developed the above guidance for use of our indoor leisure facilities to ensure everyone can feel comfortable when they visit.
We want all customers to enjoy their visit, have fun and feel safe. So, we insist for everyone’s protection that our social distancing and personal hygiene rules are followed by everyone.
We promise to keep you fully posted on any changes to the above, in line with further advice from the Government and Public Health Agency.