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Swimming restrictions revealed

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By Fiona Reid
Dumfries and West
Swimming restrictions revealed

THE pool at DG1 could be restricted to just 40 swimmers at any one time under covid reopening regulations.

And only 30 people would be able to access the centre’s gym, compared to 80 before coronavirus.

At Castle Douglas, numbers will be even lower with just 11 allowed in the pool and five in the gym.

Council officials are planning for the restart of the region’s leisure facilities on August 31, but warn things will look different.

In particular, physical distancing requirements will mean restricted numbers at leisure centres and in fitness classes, as well as less equipment in gyms.

There will also be enhanced hygiene measures put in place.

In a report for councillors, senior manager Richard Grieveson said: “There is a clear expectation that our gyms, leisure centres and swimming pools will have to operate very differently once they re-open. This creates logistical challenges that we are considering.”

His report also reveals there has been a ‘significant reduction’ in leisure income across the region, with more predicted as a result of the new restrictions and associated costs.

He said: “A number of community leisure facilities were already unable to operate within their agreed cash limit revenue budget for 2019/20 and the additional challenges detailed will exasperate this situation.

“The remaining presence of the virus will have an effect on some customers not returning immediately, whilst anticipated restrictions within the guidance is expected to further limit the number of customers able to access facilities and services at any given time.”

Pre-Covid, council operated leisure facilities brought in £2.7m total income every year, but had expenditure of £6.5 million, resulting in an annual subsidy of £3.7 million.

And it’s predicted that there has been a £166,000 monthly loss of income during closure.

While reopening will generate some money, running costs will also increase, resulting in an expected net loss of £2.5 million for the sector for 2020-21.

Mr Grieveson further warned: “Moving forward into 2021/22 and based on current restrictions continuing, if leisure facilities continue to operate on the same basis the revenue subsidy required would increase to around £6.7 million.”

If councillors agree next week to reopen leisure locally then officials will carry out a detailed renew and recovery assessment of facilities.

Meanwhile, it has been revealed that the main ice pad at Dumfries Ice Bowl will not be available until at least October 5 due to remedial works.

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