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Research revealing low Covid-19 prevalence in leisure centres welcomed

Swim England has welcomed new research which reveals the prevalence of coronavirus at leisure centres and gyms is ‘extremely low’.

The findings, published by ukactive, showed there have been only 78 confirmed Covid-19 cases among more than 22 million visits since facilities were given the go-ahead to reopen.

Data was collated from more than 1,500 facilities between 25 July and 13 September – with the number of cases per 100,000 people being measured at 0.34.

The reported cases represented incidents where public health authorities have informed operators of a positive result within a certain time period of a user visiting a facility – rather than indicating transmission in the leisure centre environment specifically.

In addition to those 78 positive cases traced to customers who have used a facility, there have been only 38 cases among members of staff.

Richard Lamburn, Swim England Head of Facilities, said: “These statistics make for encouraging reading.

“Until a vaccination or treatment for Covid-19 is found there are always risks when undertaking any activity but swimming pools are well managed spaces with numerous risk control measures in place – and this research backs that up.

“Our Returning to the Pool guidance supports the view that coronavirus would be inactivated at the levels of chlorine used in swimming pools.

“Pool hall air circulation systems are also designed to remove the air above the surface, which in turn should assist in removing airborne transmission of viruses.”

Must remain vigilant

Swimming pools, leisure centres and gyms are following strict guidance in order to remain open, ensuring social distancing among staff and customers, proper ventilation throughout and comprehensive cleanliness protocols.

Jane Nickerson, Swim England Chief Executive, added: “We have worked hard with the Government and Public Health England to ensure pools are a safe environment in the current circumstances.

“It’s pleasing to see that coronavirus is not spreading throughout facilities due to vigilant visitors and the extra preventative measures that have been put in place.

“However the key is to ensure facilities remain safe places to visit so we would urge everyone to follow the Government guidelines if they are showing symptoms or have been told to self-isolate.”

Huw Edwards, CEO of ukactive, said: “These findings show that the number of people with confirmed cases of Covid-19 visiting gyms remains extremely low, which is evidence of the huge efforts being made by gyms to ensure people do not visit if they might have the virus.

“This shows that the proactive protocols put in place by gyms and leisure facilities to prevent people with the virus from visiting them are working, alongside the highest standards of cleanliness and safety to reduce the risk.

“We must remain vigilant and continue to monitor the situation closely so that the Government and local authorities are armed with the best possible evidence to inform decisions about the sector.

“Our sector is helping to get the nation fitter and better prepared to fight the virus as we enter the autumn, providing an essential health service to the UK.

“The fitness and leisure sector has a vital role to play in fighting this health crisis, and its role will become even more important over the coming weeks and months.”