With the UK fitness and leisure sector severely affected by the coronavirus pandemic, Calday Grange Swimming Pool has had to make significant changes to keep its doors open. JMU Journalism’s Sarah Taylor was granted access to the members only pool to see the measures put in place to ensure public safety.
In June ukActive estimated almost half of the 2,727 UK public leisure facilities faced closure due to the financial fallout from Covid-19.
In order to stay open, businesses must now implement stringent new health measures in order to keep customers safe from the virus.
Calday Grange swimming pool is a member’s only pool which can also be hired by clubs and schools for swimming lessons. Before re-opening after lockdown in early September, safety measures were put in place throughout the building to protect staff and customers to enable the pool to continue to function as a business.
The measures include social distancing, hand sanitiser stations, a strict cleaning regime and face masks to be worn by parents and carers within the building.
Manager Gary Lewis explained how the new measures have been a worthwhile investment: “We purchased a fogging machine for over £1,000, which is designed to spray all areas of the building.
“The solution in the machine is water based and so is completely safe to use around members of the public and will kill all harmful (including Covid) bacteria within 10 seconds. The solution can be expensive but is certainly worth it.”
A one-way system in and out of the premises to keep people apart has also been put in place.
Watch our tour of the Covid-safe measures at Calday Grange swimming pool>>>
Despite the restrictions, general business has remained healthy and the pool is generating more customers from swimmers who would normally hire other pools that have remained closed.
“Luckily for us, after lots sleepless nights, all of our planning paid off, and we were able to open again to the public,” said Lewis.
“People appreciate all of our new measures that have been put in to place and are just grateful that they have somewhere to exercise and maintain their mental and physical health.
“We’ve had an overwhelming amount of ‘thank you for opening’ messages and lots of comments on how high the levels of cleanliness are. The staff have been amazing.”
While the public footfall has remained steady, it has been a different story for the Helen Diamond Swimming School that uses the facility. Despite putting their own additional Coronavirus measures in place, including temperature checks, staff wearing face coverings, smaller swimming group and less teaching assistants in the pool, the swim school has suffered losses as a result of the pandemic.
“There has been a drop of about 15% of customers who are not comfortable to come back,” said Diamond.
“We have lost around 15 swimmers per session which has a huge financial impact on the school. This is due to having to have reduced numbers in the pool.”
With an increasing range of localised lockdowns throughout the country in recent weeks, and the Liverpool City Region being put under Tier 3, the fate of many leisure centres hangs in the balance.
“There is already a huge financial implication to having reduced numbers,” explained Diamond. “If we had to reduce further, then it wouldn’t be viable to stay open.
“I am hoping by next April numbers will be allowed to be increased. If numbers have to stay low, then the school will have to re-assess for next year.”