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Moray Council pools and gyms to open doors next week

By Lorna Thompson

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PEOPLE will be able to book swimming and gym sessions at Moray Council leisure facilities from next week.

Swimming pools and gyms in a number of sport and leisure facilities will reopen from Monday, September 14, and three community centres will be taking bookings by clubs and organisations.

However, the chair of the council committee which oversees leisure said things will not be back quite to how they were as the sector factors in social distancing and cleaning requirements.

The reopening of the sector will take place in phases to follow national guidance around enhanced cleaning, reducing capacity and enabling social distancing.

The council said all FitLife? members will receive a letter over the next few days, outlining arrangements for their memberships. Direct Debit memberships will reactivate on October 1, with the first payment on October 10. Between September 14-30, members will be able to book activities at a discounted rate of £2 per session.

Residents will be able to book swimming and gym sessions, and exercise classes, at Buckie, Forres, Keith, Speyside, Milne’s and Lossiemouth fitness and community centres. Booking opens today, September 9, for sessions starting on September 14, and is essential to secure a space and for Test & Protect purposes. Booking can be done online or by phoning the centre. For memberships set up via Moray Leisure Centre, bookings for council leisure facilities will need to be made by phone as work continues on developing a joint booking system.

Community lets will also resume at Elgin, Forres and Lossiemouth community centres. Letters are being sent to those with regular bookings to outline changes, and staff will be in touch when lets are able to resume at other facilities.

Moray Council leisure staff at Keith swimming pool.
Moray Council leisure staff at Keith swimming pool.

Elgin High’s sports block, the Shand Centre in Dufftown, Moray Hydrotherapy Pool and access to sports halls and rooms which are integrated with schools, will not resume on September 14, but at a later date.

Swimming lessons will not resume on September 14 due to spectator capacity and physical distancing requirements. People who were booked on swimming lessons when the centres closed on March 20 will be contacted when lessons can safely resume.

During the closure many leisure staff were redeployed to support keyworker hubs. The staff have recently returned to work to undertake training in enhanced cleaning procedures, water safety, first aid, and new safe working procedures.

Moray Council’s sports and leisure manager, Ken Brown, said: "We’re looking forward to opening our doors next week and welcoming back customers to use our leisure facilities.

"It will be a different experience for us all, but our helpful staff will be on hand to guide users to exercise in a clean, safe environment.

"I’d urge everyone to pre-book their sessions as we don’t want to disappoint by turning people away."

Chair of Moray Council’s Children and Young People’s Services Committee, which oversees leisure, Cllr Sonya Warren (SNP, Buckie), said: "Lots of people have said they have missed swimming and access to gym sessions as they try to keep fit and healthy during the pandemic. I'm sure this move will be appreciated by the community, especially now the weather is turning cooler and darker nights are returning. Being able to use the FitLife? card will make access to the facilities much more affordable for everyone.

"Things will not be back quite to how they were as social distancing measures have to be in place in order to keep us all safe. However, the staff have been working incredibly hard to enable these facilities to open safely.

"I would like to thank the entire team for their commitment and dedication in enabling the reopening of our indoor facilities with exciting and varied timetables, and look forward to seeing the indoor facilities being well used."

Cllr Tim Eagle (Conservative, Buckie) thanked staff for their hard work behind the scenes and added: "I want to stress the importance of supporting your local leisure centre.

"Just last year two of our swimming pools were under threat and it was only because so many local people took out our FitLife? scheme that we were able to save them.

"I urge people to remember the importance of FitLife? to the council and hope that together we will use and protect our local leisure facilities."

More stories here .

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