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Surge in demand for leisure

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By Fiona Reid
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Surge in demand for leisure

ACTIVE residents are flooding back to sports and leisure facilities in Dumfries and Galloway.

And in some areas, leisure facility usage is even higher than it was pre-pandemic, according to council chiefs.

Leisure and sport services had been hit hard over the last couple of years due to covid restrictions, and the service made a loss of nearly £1.3m in six months last year due to a crash in visitor numbers.

However, with covid death rates plummeting and the region moving towards normality again, residents are returning to gyms, fitness classes and other activities at leisure centres.

Harry Hay, the council’s head of neighbourhood services, gave an update at the Nithsdale Area Committee on Wednesday.

He said: “The trajectory is starting to come back up. What we’ve found in Dumfries and Galloway is the facilities work very hard to build up the confidence of the different user groups, organisations, or individuals.

“Last year, some of the usage dropped simply because individuals felt that they weren’t quite ready to come back into facilities.

“Clearly we always comply with the national guidance in terms of distancing and cleanliness etc, but what we’ve found is that confidence is building.

“People that perhaps found alternatives ways to keep fit out and about are now starting to incorporate our leisure and sport facilities into that programme, which is very positive.

“So, we’re keeping an even closer eye on attendances to pick up on trends, demographics, and emerging patterns.”

He added: “Some of the facility usage is actually going up in particular areas more so than pre-pandemic. Other areas are going down or being maintained at that level.

“It’s a bit of a mixed picture at the moment, and I know from speaking to colleagues in other authority areas it’s exactly the same.”

The country’s vaccine passport scheme ended on February 28, and now all remaining legal restrictions, including the wearing of face masks, will end on March 21.

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