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High Life Highland welcomes provisional target date for reopening of gyms and swimming pools

By Gregor White

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The opening date for swimming pools and gyms could be brought forward if it is thought safe to do so.
The opening date for swimming pools and gyms could be brought forward if it is thought safe to do so.

The body looking after culture and leisure in the Highlands has welcomed the announcement that gyms and swimming pools may be allowed to reopen on September 14.

The date was announced by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon yesterday who also held out the possibility that it could be brought forward if clinical advice suggested that was a safe possibility.

Steve Walsh, chief executive of High Life Highland (HLH) said: "While yesterday’s announcement from the First Minister is not the news we have been hoping for, it does mean that we now have a date to aim for in terms of reopening our gyms and swimming pools across the Highlands.

"Staff have already been back reconfiguring sites to accommodate the Scottish Government’s social distancing measures and making sure we will still be able to deliver an enjoyable experience, but most importantly a safe experience when we welcome our customers back.

"I am sure many of our customers will be frustrated that they are having to wait a bit longer for their return to our gyms and swimming pools.

High Life Highland chief executive Steve Walsh.
High Life Highland chief executive Steve Walsh.

"Our first and foremost priority remains the safety and health of our customers and our staff and we are hopeful that customers will understand the decision to reopen our sites is very much out of our hands.

"High Life Highland is keen to continue the role it has played in supporting those communities and to do its bit to suppress the spread of the virus and help prevent any possibilities of cases increasing in the region.

"We are continuing to deliver services online where possible and are currently trying to negotiate with the Highland Council for access to external sporting facilities within the shared school estate, to enable sporting activities to take place outside in line with the government’s route map guidance.

"I would like to reassure our many thousands of members and customers that our teams across all our locations are working hard and doing all they can to ensure HLH sites are ready to welcome everyone back on September 14 into Covid-secure sites across the Highlands if the date is confirmed by the Scottish Government."

Mr Walsh concluded: "Despite the challenges our charity faces, High Life Highland remains committed to working with the Scottish Government to deliver its route map, as well as with partners in Highland Council, Sportscotland and Community Leisure UK to enable customers and members to return to their chosen activities when it is safe to do so."

Related article: First Minister confirms schools will reopen next month but says gyms will stay closed for now

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