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Swim England applauds decision to reopen pools ... but repeats funding plea

Delighted Swim England chief executive Jane Nickerson has applauded the decision to reopen swimming pools when the national lockdown ends – but has called for further financial support to secure the long-term future of facilities.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has revealed that a regional tiered approach to tackle the spread of coronavirus will come into effect from Wednesday 2 December.

Swimming pools and leisure centres will be allowed to open again but Jane said the financial pressures facing facilities have not gone away and called for the Chancellor Rishi Sunak to confirm additional support in this week’s spending review.

Mr Johnson told the House of Commons: “We can see a route out of the pandemic.

“We must get through the winter without the virus spreading out of control and our winter plan is designed to carry us safely to spring.

“The national restrictions will end on 2 December and will not be renewed. From next Wednesday, people will be able to leave their homes for any purpose and meet others in outdoor spaces subject to the rule of six.

“Outdoor sports can resume, gyms and the wider leisure sector can reopen.”

Jane said: “This is a most welcome development and will be music to the ears of the millions of people who go swimming in England each month.

“I commend the Prime Minister for recognising the importance of supporting people’s physical and mental health and allowing swimming pools to play their part in doing just that.

“We know how important the water is for so many people and I can’t wait to see people getting back to doing the activities they love in pools up and down the country.

“Thanks to everyone who has helped our campaign to get pools open – who signed our open letter to the Prime Minister, who contacted their local MP and who showed their support on social media. We couldn’t have done it without you.

Seeking clarity

“Whilst today is an incredibly positive day, with millions more people now being able to get back in to the water, we know this is not the end of the road.

“Despite our efforts to successfully secure £100 million of Government investment for leisure centres, the financial pressures facing too many of our swimming facilities has not gone away.

“Therefore we will keep up the pressure on behalf of the aquatics community to get everyone back in the water, and for the financial support our pools and clubs need.”

Swim England is waiting for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to publish updated guidance later this week to understand the full impact on our sports but the below is what we know so far:

  • Under 18s will be exempt from restrictions as before so all club activity for all disciplines and learn to swim sessions for under 18s are unaffected.
  • In tier one areas, indoor sports for over 18s can take place within the rule of six. For example, people from different households could play three v three water polo.
  • Group activities for over 18s  such as club training sessions and exercise classes can take place in larger numbers, provided that people are in separate groups (up to six people) that do not mix.
  • In tier two areas, people over 18 can take part in indoor group activity as long as there is no mixing between households. People can play certain sports which do not involve close proximity or physical contact against one person from another household.
  • In tier three areas, indoor sport for over 18s will be restricted to within your household only and there should be no group activity such as exercise classes

Jane said: “We want to see a return to full activities for our wonderful sports and are seeking clarity on what the new system means for organised group activities for over 18s.

“As soon as this is available, we will share this with you.”