Swimming pools and gyms in a number of sport and leisure facilities will re-open, and three community centres will re-open for bookings by clubs and organisations.

It’s part of a phased re-opening to the sector, following national guidance around enhanced cleaning, reducing capacity and enabling social distancing for users. All FitLife? members will receive a letter over the next few days, outlining arrangements for their respective memberships. For those with direct debit memberships, these will reactivate on 1 October, with the first payment on 10 October. Between 14 – 30 September, they’ll 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 (9 September) for sessions commencing 14 September, and is essential to secure a space and for Test & Protect purposes. Booking can be done online or by phoning the leisure facility. 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.

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 14 September, but at a later date. Swimming lessons will not resume on 14 September due to spectator capacity and physical distancing requirements – all those who were booked on swimming lessons when the centres closed on 20 March will be contacted when lessons can safely resume.

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

Moray Council’s Sports & 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. House rules will be displayed in every leisure facility, all users should familiarise themselves with these, observe distancing at all times, and come ready to work out or swim.”

Chair of Moray Council’s Children and Young People’s Services Committee – which oversees leisure – Cllr Sonya Warren, said: “It’s fantastic to see the phased reopening of our indoor sport and leisure facilities happening.

“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 with them having to undertake lots of training in safe working practices, and also implementing extra cleaning sessions in order to offer the best and safest services they can.

“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.”

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