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Sign letter to PM urging him to reconsider decision to shut ‘essential’ swimming pools

The Swim England family is being urged to sign an open letter to the Prime Minister urging him to reconsider the decision to close ‘essential’ swimming pools and leisure centres in a second national lockdown.

Chief executive Jane Nickerson is to send the letter, which stresses the vital role aquatic activity plays in the health and wellbeing of the nation, to Boris Johnson on Tuesday evening ahead of the Government debate the following day.

To show the Prime Minister the true level of support for the #OpenOurPools campaign to Number 10, people are being encouraged to add their name to the letter before 5pm on Tuesday 3 November.

The Government announced a four-week national lockdown will begin on Thursday 5 November and run until Wednesday 2 December – with all swimming pools and leisure centres having to shut.

However, research has shown the prevalence of coronavirus in leisure facilities is ‘extremely low’ and Jane insisted they should be classed as essential services.

In the letter, Jane says: “We are writing to request you reconsider the decision to force leisure centres to close during the second national lockdown due to begin this Thursday.

“We appreciate the incredibly difficult situation facing the Government and support measures to reduce the spread of infection in our communities.

“However we believe the decision to force leisure centres to close is a mistake.

“Swimming pools are well managed, chlorinated, controlled environments where the risk of transmission can be successfully mitigated.

“As well as being a safe activity, swimming is vital for many people’s physical and mental wellbeing with 1.4 million adults in Britain feeling felt that swimming had significantly reduced their symptoms of anxiety or depression.

“This will be more important than ever as people try and cope with a second lockdown – at a time of year when it will be more difficult than before to be active outside.

“The Government has itself repeatedly stressed the importance of being active to help in the fight against Covid-19 yet Sport England research showed that activity levels dropped substantially during the first lockdown.

“For many people with a range of health conditions, exercising on land is simply not an option and the water offers them the only real opportunity to be active.

Devastating for so many

“Closing pools therefore risks widening health inequalities in the country and will have long-term public health implications.

“Hundreds of clubs up and down the country have been operating in a Covid-secure way, offering the opportunity for hundreds of thousands of people of all ages to be active in the water and improve their health and wellbeing.

“Losing this opportunity would be devastating for so many.

“For the sake of our clubs that partake in all our sports, members, operators, coaches, teachers, people of all ages learning to swim and those that simply enjoy recreational aquatic activity on a regular basis, we implore you to look again at the decision to close swimming pools and leisure centres.

“In these challenging times, they should be classed as an essential services for the mental and physical health benefits of millions of people.”

Jane will also highlight the growing need for further funding to support facilities.

“Many pools were facing an uncertain future even before the second lockdown,” said Jane, “with hundreds up and down the country never even having re-opened their doors since March.

“A Sports Recovery Fund is required to safeguard the future of these vital community facilities through the lockdown and beyond.

“We therefore urge you to allow swimming pools to remain open to play their part in our shared fight against Covid-19, and to provide them with the support they need to continue serving our communities.”

You can read the full letter and add your name to it by clicking here.

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