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Cafes used as gyms as Shrewsbury Sports Village and Oswestry Leisure Centre prepare to reopen

By Dominic Robertson | Shrewsbury | Coronavirus | Published:

Two of the county's major leisure centres will reopen this weekend, but another three will remain closed due to issues with social distancing guidelines.

The cafe area at Shrewsbury Sports Village now has gym equipment instead of tables and chairs

Shrewsbury Sports Village and Oswestry Leisure Centre, both run by Shropshire Community Leisure Trust, will open to the public on Saturday for the first time since lockdown restrictions came into force.

Both have seen gym equipment moved into cafes and sports halls to provide enough space for people to exercise safely.

But three of the trust's other sites - the Quarry in Shrewsbury, Whitchurch Swimming Centre, and Market Drayton Swimming and Fitness Centre - will not yet be opening.

How the team at the Sports Village have used alternative spaces to house gym equipment.

Chris Stanbrook, contract manager for the trust said: “Following the recent government announcement that indoor leisure facilities could reopen from July 25, and following lengthy discussions with the council, we will be reopening Shrewsbury Sports Village and Oswestry Leisure Centre from that date.

"There will be a reduced service on offer at each centre due to social distancing and safety guidelines. However, we are confident the measures we have in place will keep both customers and employees safe while we all adapt to this new way of operating."

Mr Stanbrook said issues around guidelines for social distancing were preventing the reopening of the other sites.

He said: "We will not be reopening Market Drayton Swimming & Fitness Centre, The Quarry and Whitchurch Swimming Pool on July 25, a decision made in conjunction with the council.

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Oswestry Leisure Centre getting ready to welcome people back

"At those centres, we have identified issues around our ability to enforce current social distancing and safety guidelines, which include strict rules around air ventilation.

“Once we are confident all safety considerations have been met, we will look to reopen Market Drayton Swimming & Fitness Centre, The Quarry and Whitchurch Swimming Pool.”

Part of the measures to conform with social distancing guidelines has seen gym equipment such as running and rowing machines moved in to sports halls.

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The trust said its team has also used café space, adapting it into mini gyms to allow as many customers as possible to get access to the fitness equipment of their choice.

Mr Stanbrook added: "We want our customers and employees to feel safe when they’re at our centre. Before we closed, we’d already introduced social distancing measures such as smaller class sizes, and more space between equipment.

“Reassuring our members and employees that coming to their centre is a safe thing to do has always been our number one reopening priority. People know how important a strong immune system is in fighting back against Covid-19, but it’s up to us to ensure we provide a safe place for customers to get their fitness fix, and a place colleagues can feel comfortable working in.”

At the sites reopening on Saturday new guidelines mean gym and workout classes will only be available via pre-booked slots, with sessions available two-days in advance.

Shower facilities will also not be available at the sites with people expected to wash when they get home instead.

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