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Safety will be number one consideration when leisure facilities restart

Posted on 28 Aug 2020

Final preparations are being made to ensure leisure facilities across North Ayrshire can re-open safely.

KA Leisure and North Ayrshire Council are working hand-in-hand to safeguard the health and wellbeing of customers as lockdown eases and leisure facilities begin to re-open.

The Scottish Government’s route map confirmed that indoor sports and activities are permitted to restart from Monday, August 31.

KA Leisure and the Council are continuing to work together on a phasing plan to ensure that the appropriate staffing and finances are in place to restart all activities in a responsible way.

The overriding priority for both partners is public health and the health and safety of customers and staff. Guidance from sportscotland and sports governing bodies has a key role to play in this and KA Leisure has also had confirmation from RoSPA (The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) that they are continuing to reach very high standards in respecting the guidance in all areas of their business.

The KA Leisure Board have agreed a phased re-opening plan for indoor venues commencing with fitness activity at Auchenharvie Leisure Centre and Vikingar on Monday, August 31. This will be followed by the re-launch of fitness activities at the Portal, Irvine, on Saturday, September 5, along with the re-introduction of a small number of sports courts.

Guidance continues to emerge in relation to some sports and we continue to explore how we can safely restart swimming, activity on school campuses and on the ice rink at Auchenharvie.

Over the coming weeks, there will be further engagement with community groups and their patience and support during this time is greatly appreciated.

This has been a complex and challenging time for leisure trusts across the UK as they seek to recover following the Covid-19 lockdown. Aside from the social impact, the projected financial loss to KA Leisure will be approximately £2.8million.

Across the country the country, leisure trusts face financial peril and it is important that appropriate support is given, and plans are put in place to mitigate the long-term impact.

North Ayrshire Council Leader Joe Cullinane said: “This has not been an easy time for anyone and we know that leisure trusts across the country have found it particularly challenging.

“North Ayrshire Council has made a major financial commitment to support KA Leisure through this unprecedented situation.

“Throughout the pandemic, the Council has prioritised the safety and wellbeing of our residents and this commitment will enable KA Leisure to deliver a public health approach to re-opening services with the security net that the Council will assist with the very significant loss of income they have experienced from Covid-19.

“We know just how important these facilities are to our local communities and that’s why we are doing everything in our power not just to re-open services, but to re-open them safely.”

Gary Higgon, Chairman of KA Leisure, said: “The lockdown period has been an anxious time for all involved in the leisure industry throughout the whole of the country.

“During this period, KA Leisure staff have been actively involved in all aspects of ensuring the safety of our customers and staff when reopening of facilities commences. With the recent guidance offered by the Scottish Government, our Board-approved plans are now able to be implemented across sites throughout North Ayrshire in a phased manner.

“Whilst it is recognised that certain operational constraints will be necessary to ensure customer safety, the public may be assured that our aim is to ensure the provision of the high quality service that we have in the past, especially at this time when remaining active is so important to everyone.”