Residents in South Tyneside can start getting active again with the reopening of Council leisure centres from next Monday 12 April.
South Tyneside Council's leisure centres have remained closed for more than three months, under Government restrictions, to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
In keeping with the gradual relaxation of the restrictions under Step 2 of the Government's roadmap out of lockdown, the Council is preparing to reopen all six of its leisure sites for indoor sports and activities.
From 12 April, centres will be offering swimming and gym sessions. However, indoor group exercise sessions, such as instructor-led fitness and dance classes, will remain suspended at this time under the Government restrictions.
Covid-secure measures previously implemented will be reinstated with more swim and gym sessions to help support social distancing. As such, all sessions will be time-limited with users required to book their sessions in advance.
Leisure members will be able to reserve their spaces using the new online booking system, or by calling a centre, from today (Tuesday 6 April). Get Active discount card holders can pre-book their sessions by calling centres from tomorrow (Wednesday 7 April).
David Brooks, South Tyneside Council's Corporate Lead for Culture and Leisure Services, said: "Some of our centres have been open since 29 March for outdoor athletics and club activities permitted under the Government's Step 1 easing of restrictions.
"However, we know that the next step in the roadmap out of lockdown is much anticipated among our leisure users, with people eager to start enjoying the Borough's indoor leisure facilities once again after more than three months of closure.
"We are working hard to have all our centres ready to reopen safely and welcome people back from 12 April. However, it is important to remember that, despite restrictions being relaxed, there will still be rules to follow to support the Government's Hands, Face, Space and Fresh Air guidance.
"This means that some areas, such as the fitness changing rooms, hair drying facilities and sauna and steam rooms, will remain unavailable at this time. Swimmers and gym users will be encouraged to arrive 'beach ready' or ready to exercise. Sessions must be booked in advance."
Under the Step 2 restrictions, indoor training can return for under 18s. Users of swimming pools and gyms can visit alone or with their household. The Café takeaway service will also be reinstated.
It is anticipated that indoor group exercise classes, organised training sessions, soft play and sauna and steam rooms, will be able to reopen, with social distance restrictions still in place from 17 May (Step 3), with no legal limits on social contact from 21 June (Step 4).
David added: "If the Government's roadmap remains on track, then we will see the return of the Council's full core of activities - swim, gym and fitness included - from 17 May.
"In the meantime, we would urge our leisure members to support us by respecting the rules in place and be sensible to help keep themselves, their families, our staff and others safe. We thank our leisure users for their patience, understanding and support at this time."
To allow customers time to familiarise themselves with the arrangements, and as a gesture of goodwill, membership fees will stay frozen until 1 June 2021. Regardless of membership type (Duo and Multi-activity and Pay Yearly), members will be able to use the Council's gyms and swimming pools for free until 1 June. Those who have paid their membership upfront for the full year will have the additional time added onto their membership expiry date.
Information about South Tyneside leisure centres, the facilities available, booking instructions and what people need to know before they visit, is available on the Council's website at www.southtyneside.gov.uk/leisure
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