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Council centres all set for easing of leisure lockdown

20 April 2021

Preparations are underway at Council owned leisure centres for the much awaited return to sport and leisure activities following the easing of Covid-19 restrictions announced by the Executive last week.

From April 30th the doors will open once again for the first step back to indoor fitness which will mean the public can return to gyms for individual training and for lane swimming. The Executive have also given an indicative date of May 24th for the return of indoor group exercise, with controls on numbers accessing venues.

From April 30th Council's gym members will be able to resume their regular individual activities, including 1-2-1 training and coaching with a number of measures in place to ensure public safety. And they will be delighted to hear that a full programme of outdoor and online exercise will run in parallel with the reopening, for those who prefer to train in an outside space or at home. 

The public are asked to please read the guidelines and book ahead for sessions in order to ensure the safe and smooth return to activity. Booking for outdoor classes and indoor activities will open on Friday April 23rd.

Facilities reopening on April 30th include Foyle Arena, Templemore Sports Complex, Riversdale Leisure Centre, Melvin Sports Complex and Derg Valley Leisure Centre (excluding the Main Hall which remains closed for maintenance). Council's green pitches and tennis facilities were reopened on April 12th for affiliated club booking only.

There will be a slight delay in the return to swimming at Templemore Sports Complex, which has been pushed back to the end of May to accommodate essential works to the heating system. The Climbing Wall at Foyle Arena will also remain closed to allow for the continued delivery of the Vaccination Programme at the centre over the coming weeks, while it is considered necessary to support the Health Service in the roll out.

Welcoming the news, Mayor of Derry and Strabane, Councillor Brian Tierney said: "I am sure there will be lots of people looking forward to seeing the inside of a gym after such a long period of lockdown. I think we have all been guilty of a bit of over indulgence to get us through these difficult times, and it will be a great opportunity to set a new challenge and take the first steps back to fitness with the guidance of Council's trained instructors.

"The outdoor activity programme will be extremely popular as we head into the summer months, and I'm sure parents are delighted to see children's classes included on the programme. I want to take this opportunity to commend our leisure staff who have had a particularly challenging time during lockdown, many stepping up to take on alternative roles when the leisure facilities closed. I know they're very much looking forward to welcoming customers back to the centres. It's fantastic to see us embark on this next phase of the journey towards normal life."

The new programme will include a supervised Cycling programme, an after school Multi-Skills Club for kids, Female Fit sessions, and a Walk, Jog, Run scheme to get people of all ages and abilities back into fitness. Council is also working with its partners, including Disability Sport NI, to finalise the details of the safe return of the inclusive Disability programme. The Macmillan Move More programme and GP Referral Programmes, which both support people affected by Cancer and various lifelong conditions by improving their fitness and mobility, have continued remotely throughout lockdown but it's hoped some outdoor activities will resume for these groups and individuals in the coming weeks.  

A state of the art new fitness App will also be launched in the coming days for Council's all-inclusive gym members, offering a full range of online fitness classes to be enjoyed any time, anywhere.

Council's Director of Health and Community, Karen McFarland said: "I am absolutely delighted to have reached this stage in the Pathway out of Restrictions, and to be reopening our leisure facilities once again. Staff have been working hard to ensure that all measures are in place for the safe return of our members, and that our centres are visitor ready from April 30th.

"We recognise that people's needs and expectations have changed in the past year and that a flexible approach to fitness will offer the best support for our members. It's fantastic to be able to announce our extended offering which gives the public a range of options whether they want to dive right back in to swimming, ease into exercise with some of our outdoor classes, or get gym ready in the comfort of their own living room.

"Reopening will bring its challenges, but we have been here before and will work closely with our members and the public to ensure we are meeting their needs during this phased return over the coming weeks and months. We appreciate the patience and cooperation of the public as we work to reopen facilities safely."

Users should understand that due to the restrictions around social distancing there will be limited indoor capacity at all centres and all activities must be booked in advance.

Following the initial reopening it is hoped that indoor group activities will resume later in the month depending on legislation, with an indicative date of May 24th set by the Executive.

In the meantime, members can book for individual training, lane swimming or one to one socially distanced training indoors, and avail of the wide range of outdoor and online classes. Non-members can also book for the outdoor programme, with prices for classes listed on the online timetable.

Visitors are asked to arrive gym or swim ready at centres – swimmers wearing costumes beneath their clothes – as changing will take place poolside with designated areas on the pool deck to store clothing. Facilities will operate a 'quick change zone' for swimmers at the end of sessions.

Gym users should note that there will be no access to showers or changing facilities following activities. There will also be emergency toilet access only.

Centre cafes will remain closed until legislation permits their reopening though vending machines will be operational. Services will continue to be reviewed over the coming weeks in line with restrictions and leisure members and user groups will be contacted in relation to opening dates, membership information and any new procedures in place.

To book a class from Friday April 23rd or to find our more information on facilities and regulations go to www.derrystrabaneleisure.com