Date: 06 Aug 2020
GLL, the charitable social enterprise that operates ‘Better’ leisure facilities across Belfast on behalf of Belfast City Council has announced its plans to be the first in Northern Ireland to re-open public swimming pools from Thursday 6 August 2020.
In the initial reopening phase, gyms and studio spaces in 9 leisure centres re-opened on 10 July. From today, Thursday 6 August, 6 swimming pools opened at Lisnasharragh, Andersonstown, Olympia, Falls, Whiterock and Grove.
Pools at Ballysillan, Brook and Shankill will remain closed at this time. Anyone wishing to use the facilities will need to pre-book a time slot via the Better app or website. Swimming pools will have double width lanes, backstroke will be prohibited and swimmers will be asked to arrive “beach ready”, to reduce touch points in changing rooms.
All Better members will be given access to all Better-operated facilities within Belfast for the foreseeable future. Meaning members of pools that aren’t re-opening in the initial phase will be able to use alternative facilities at no additional cost.
Lord Mayor of Belfast, Alderman Frank McCoubrey said: “I am delighted that swimming pools at six of our leisure centre pools will reopen today. We have had a challenging few months due to Covid-19 and I know that this will be a real boost to a lot of people who have really missed swimming during this time.
“Our leisure centres play a vital role in improving the health and wellbeing of our citizens, which is a central aim of the city’s community plan, the Belfast Agenda. The impact of reopening swimming pools and other leisure facilities in local communities should therefore not be underestimated.
“During lockdown we have worked very closely with GLL to navigate the guidance and put in place new measures to allow us to reopen our facilities when it was permissible to do so. The experience for centre users will be a little bit different to what it was pre-Covid, but I hope that everyone will understand and respect that these new measures are necessary to continue to keep staff and users safe.”
Regional Director, Gareth Kirk said: “Our first phase of re-opening has been really successful with customers and staff saying they feel safe and happy to be back. We’re delighted to finally be able to re-open six of our pools for club training, public lane swimming and adult and child sessions. Swimming is a great form of all round exercise and we have some of the best aquatic facilities in the UK and Ireland, here is Belfast.”