Swim England

A nation swimming

Delay in easing lockdown means pools need more help to ‘recover and survive’

Swim England has reiterated calls for a second phase of the National Leisure Recovery Fund to help pools ‘recover and survive’ after the easing of lockdown restrictions was delayed.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed on Monday that Step Four of the relaxing of measures to combat the spread of coronavirus would be put back until Monday 19 July due to a rise in cases of the new Delta variant.

While the announcement was not a surprise, Swim England chief executive Jane Nickerson warned that this latest delay needed to go ‘hand-in-hand’ with more financial support for facilities.

UK Active estimates that 400 gyms, leisure centres and pools across the sector had closed by the end of the first quarter in 2021 – and thousands more will be at risk of closure if the Government does not provide more support.

Jane said: “We acknowledge the difficult situation facing the government, and country, as a result of the impact of the new Delta variant on case numbers and hospitalisations. 

“We appreciate the safety considerations the Government has had to consider in making the decision to delay the relaxing of restrictions in England until 19 July.

Desperately needed

“This does, however, make it more important than ever that this decision comes hand-in-hand with additional support for our nation’s pools and leisure centres which will now have to continue to operate at reduced capacity to allow for social distancing. 

“This threatens the financial sustainability for many pools, particularly as we approach the 1 July cliff edge when business rates are set to be reintroduced and furlough support from the Government tapers off, increasing the burden on employers.

“We have consistently called for phase two of the National Leisure Recovery Fund which is desperately needed by public operators.

“Our pools have never been more needed to help the nation recover from Covid and to support people to live healthy, active lives, but they must receive the financial support they need to both survive and recover.”

The current situation means that organised club sessions and learn to swim sessions for both children and adults can continue as they were in step three with no changes.

Competitions can still be run, subject to capacity limits and social distancing requirements at the host venue.