Leisure centres and swimming pools across the Highlands reopened this morning, two weeks earlier than had originally been anticipated.
Steve Walsh, Chief Executive of High Life Highland said, “It is absolutely amazing to see leisure centres and swimming pools welcoming highlife members and customers back to swimming, working out or attending classes this morning.
“This has been a long-time coming, but our HLH teams have done a fantastic job in preparing the sites that will allow participants to return to a COVID-safe environment, fully in-line with Scottish Government guidelines, but presented in such a way that we hope will allow everyone to enjoy their safe return to activities.
“The feedback received from customers this morning has been extremely positive, with centres experiencing a steady flow of visitors since they opened first thing this morning. It seems that our customers have been very positive and accepting of the new leisure centre environments and welcome the chance to ‘get back’.
“We expect to see numbers increase over the next few days and weeks as our customers get used to our systems and build their confidence to start attending their local leisure centre and pools.”
Kirsty Ewen, a regular swimming at Inverness Leisure, and who was one of the first in the pool when the city location opened its doors just after midnight said, “I’m totally buzzing after the swim and haven’t felt this good in such a while.
Kirsty, who is also a swim coach and mentor to young people, has spoken publicly about her own challenges with mental health, went on to explain, “Activity is so important for both your physical and mental health, therefore it is great to see the leisure centres and swimming pools reopen to support those in communities where going to the gym, attending a class, or in my case, going for a swim will help them out in some personal way.”
In order to fully comply with Scottish Government protocols, Customers to High Life Highland’s leisure centres will now be required to book online for any activities in its locations. They are also advised that the Highland Charity will no longer be able to offer “drop-in” attendances as was the case before lockdown.
Following positive discussions with The Highland Council, a partnership approach is being adopted that will see the process of reopening joint school and community facilities over the next couple of weeks, with East Caithness Community Facility in the Wick school campus being the first joint site to be reopened today. Local discussions with Head Teachers will continue this week to identify and agree timelines that will get joint facilities open as soon and as safely as possible.
Concluding, Steve Walsh, Chief Executive said, “We have waited on this day for a long time – so it is great to see it finally arrive and our centres being reopen again. We look forward to welcoming all our members and customers back to our locations over the next days and weeks as we take another step towards our new normality.”