THE dedicated team at lifeLEISURE Barrow Park are set to welcome visitors back through the doors for the first time since lockdown.
The centre, in Greengate Street, will reopen from Monday, August 3, to provide a safe and socially distanced environment for everyone to enjoy in its spacious surroundings.
Facilities available will include swimming, sport and fitness classes and use of the gym.
Councillor Derek Brook, chair of the Executive Committee for Barrow Borough Council, said: “This is excellent news for everyone.
“What we saw during lockdown was people making the most of their hour of exercise, going for a walk or cycling for the first time in a while, or perhaps running.
“And I know people who went to the leisure centre previously have really missed it since March.
“Exercise is a fantastic medicine. It improves not only physical but also mental health. Exercising regularly is something that can literally save lives.
“I hope people will build on the exercise they’ve enjoyed over the past few months by going to the leisure centre from Monday, getting back into the routine of exercise or trying something new.”
The global Covid-19 pandemic saw the mandatory closure of leisure centres and swimming pools across the UK in March in a bid to prevent the spread of the deadly virus.
Centres can now reopen in line with the easing of lockdown nationwide.
lifeLEISURE Barrow Park, a not-for-profit organisation, will be adhering to strict guidelines laid out for leisure centres and swimming pools by the government.
There will be hand sanitisers throughout the centre, screens in place at reception and a clearly-marked one-way entry and exit system.
In addition, a stringent cleaning regime is in operation throughout the day while the cafe has a new layout to enable people to socially distance while enjoying a range of refreshments.
The organisation is also working with local groups to make sure as many people as possible can safely take advantage of the equipment, classes and spaces available.
Councilor Brook added: “The team at lifeLEISURE has worked closely with the borough council to put in place new guidelines to keep both staff and visitors safe.
“Luckily the leisure centre has lots of space which means social distancing is easier to achieve and people can return - or try the facilities for the first time - with confidence.
“Unfortunately, Covid-19 has highlighted the health inequalities that exist within our communities here in Barrow.
“This is something that we are determined to tackle as a council, and I would encourage people to get out and enjoy some exercise as often as they can.”
Malcolm McPhail, CEO of Life Leisure Group, said: “We had no choice when it came to closing centres at the start of the pandemic, but we could choose how we reacted.
“We have used every bit of that time to work with our fellow fitness providers, medical advisors and of course everyone at Barrow.
“The leadership team and all our staff have been fantastic and I thank them so much for their continued support.
“As a non-profit working in the leisure industry, the impact of COVID-19 on our organisation has been severe. But we don’t want to let this stop us.
“Physical activity is so important for health and wellbeing, especially when emerging from lockdown conditions. Re-opening leisure centres is also an important contribution to getting people out of their homes and restarting the local economy.
“All of which is why we’ve worked really closely with the local council to re-open Barrow as soon as possible following the government’s announcement regarding leisure facilities.”
While lockers will be available, members are advised that restrictions will be in place around changing facilities. Entry to all facilities will also be dependent on producing a lifeLEISURE membership card.
Michaela Pennington, Group Operations Director at Life Leisure, said: “Throughout the pandemic our members have been absolutely brilliant, taking part in online challenges, virtual fitness classes and showing a massive amount of support for the Life Leisure team.
“With this re-opening plan, we want to repay that support by offering a really first-class fitness experience that – even if it looks a little different – really helps get people moving again to help their physical and mental wellbeing. I can’t wait to see everyone back.”
Life Leisure has published a full breakdown of the health and safety measures that will be in place and requirements for attending its facilities. This can be found on the Life Leisure Barrow Park website www.lifeleisurebarrowpark.com