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SWIMMING pools across the country have been closed since the start of lockdown and many water babies are itching to get back into the pool.
While outdoor swimming in wild and open water is still allowed, experts have now said that a trip to your local pool will be “very different” once the government gives the green light for the reopening of indoor swimming facilities.
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Pools closed on March 23 along with gyms and other fitness centres.
At the same time restaurants and bars were also closed, but there is now hope that pools could open by July.
As with all other facilities and establishments planning to reopen after lockdown restrictions are lifted, pools will have to comply with a strict cleaning regime as well as making sure people using the facilities comply with social distancing measures.
So far in the UK over 39,000 people have died from the coronavirus and the lifting of restrictions can only be done if they are done so at the highest standards, which ensure public safety.
Swim England has said that detailed guidelines will be released in the next two weeks as to what pools will look like once they reopen.
The organisation has given a glimpse as to what your swimming experience will be like post lockdown.
Making sure the pool is clean and stays clean will be one of the top priorities for leisure centres once pools reopen.
One expert said most pools would need three weeks notice before opening to the public.
Head of facilities for Swim England, Richard Lamburn said most pools have never been completely closed down before and that this would have an impact on how long it takes for them to get up and running again.
He said the water used in pools will have to pass a microbiological test before they can reopen and added that the water will need to be reheated, this has to be done at an increase of 0.25C an hour.
This is while chlorine, which is used in pools to keep it clean also inactivates most viruses.
As with other places such as supermarkets, strict social distancing measures will also have to be adopted at pools.
Chief executive of Swim England Jane Nickerson said: “Some pools may request that there are fewer non-swimming individuals dryside to help them comply with these guidelines”.
While many wild and open swimming areas have remained open, lidos and other wild ponds such as in Hampstead, London, had to be closed due to fears of overcrowding due to the warmer weather conditions the UK has been experiencing.
While people may be able to enjoy a swim from July 4, Ms Nickerson said facilities would be limited for those attending the pool.
“At this time, we are bound by the Government on when we’ll be able to get back to the sports we all love.
“One thing is clear – initially things aren’t going to be the same when pools do reopen.
“We will have to adhere to social distancing guidelines in changing rooms, the poolside and the water itself as well of the rest of the building and be more mindful of our surroundings.”
She said that communal areas may have to be closed and that people would have to arrive with their swimsuits on underneath their normal clothing.
She added that children who do not yet know how to swim will still be welcome in pools so they can enjoy lessons.
For those using the pool for sporting reasons, they will be able to train and insurance will be covered as long as the centres adhere to the guidelines.
Some gyms that have pools within their centres have said they are taking care to make sure they are safe to visit.
A spokesperson for Total FItness said: “With industry guidelines currently supportive of pool re-openings, with chlorinated water known to kill the virus, Total Fitness is well placed to do so with the latest wet-side facilities in the private sector.
“It will work on social distancing measures in addition on the poolside and also in the changing rooms to minimise the footfall and keep people moving. However, squash and heat treatments rooms are to remain closed until it is safe for them to reopen.”
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