Although a segment of elite swimmers within the nation of Wales was able to return to training in June of this year, the majority of Welsh aquatic athletes continued to remain dry through the coronavirus pandemic.
That’s about to change as of Monday, August 10th, as leisure centres around Wales are able to open to the public.
“Swimming pools, indoor fitness studios, gyms and leisure centres will be able to re-open from Monday, First Minister Mark Drakeford confirmed today (Friday 7 August),” reads the statement on the Welsh government’s website.
A minimum distance of 2 meters must be maintained where possible between people, while screens, face coverings and improving hygiene will be put in place to minimize the risk of exposure to coronavirus on these premises.
Additionally, the Welsh government says it has empowered local authorities to enforce these requirements, giving them the ability to issue a Premises Improvement Notice to highlight breaches and specify measures that need to be taken to become compliant with Welsh law.
“If compliance does not ensue, or if a serious breach is noted, then the premises can be closed by issuing a Premises Closure Notice,” reads the statement.
First Minister Mark Drakeford said, “We continue to take a step-by-step approach to easing the lockdown, closely monitoring the impact of each change we make. As more parts of our society and economy reopen, it is vital we all keep in mind our personal responsibility to do the right thing and make sure we continue to protect ourselves and others from the virus.
He also stated, “For the small minority of individuals and businesses who are not complying with the law, I want to make it clear that we will take action and we won’t hesitate to close individual premises if that is necessary.”
Welsh pools have already begun updating members and the general public that things will look different on Monday than they did prior to the coronavirus lockdown. For example, Bronwydd Swimming Pool’s website details changes in operating hours upon reopening on Monday, as well as the fact that all sessions and classes will need to be booked in advance. Additionally, this particular facility is continuing to exclude swim lessons from its programming.
Cambrian Aquatics Sports Centre says its facility will have a one-way system and numbers may be limited particularly in changing and communal areas to preserve social distancing. Public swim will begin the week of August 17th, with all time slots pre-books with a maximum of 15 per session to begin.
As these changes unfold and Welsh swimmers get back into the groove, Swim Wales posted the following statement:
Dear valued member of the aquatic family, I hope you continue to stay safe and well. We are thrilled (as you are) to hear the announcement today from the First Minister/Welsh Government that pools can re-open to all of our 11 users groups from Monday the 10th of August 2020.
As many of you will know, for several weeks now Swim Wales has been focussed on developing and publishing high level user guidance for each and every one of our 500,000 participants across Wales. We wanted to ensure that everyone had the necessary safe practices to prepare for and aid their return.
In parallel, we have worked closely with Welsh Government, Arts, Culture & Sport Division and TAC (Technical Advisory Cell) who provide scientific and technical advice to support Welsh Government decision makers during emergencies. This regular contact ensured that we were aligned throughout in terms of our guidance, health & medical reports to aid confidence levels on pool re-opening across Wales.
A range of resources to support clubs and individuals in this second phase of returning to water has also been produced and are available for you to view here on the Swim Wales website. I am extremely proud of and grateful to our staff at Swim Wales, and to the wonderful volunteers we have across the country who have worked tirelessly to support our communities, our coaches, our athletes and our clubs, we have all played our part in this!
Swim Wales will continue to work with Welsh Government and Sport Wales to review our current guidelines and assess when we can move to phase three of our phased return. Our attention will immediately turn to supporting the ‘places for sport’ and our facility partners (Local Authorities, Community Trusts, Operators) to ensure that our member clubs and participant groups have smooth transition back to the facilities and activities that they need. For now, we celebrate our collective achievement today and I thank you all sincerely.
At the time of publishing, Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Center lists the nation of Wales as having 17,406 confirmed cases of coronavirus (.56% of population), resulting in 1,578 deaths.