The First Minister announced today that gyms and swimming pools can look to reopen following national guidance from 31st August. A Comhairle spokesperson said: “The benefits of activity for our mental and physical health are huge, so this is a very positive step forward. In the Outer Hebrides, we face particular challenges with five of our six sports facilities being based in schools and our largest building, Ionad Spòrs Leòdhais serving the Nicolson Institute during the school day.
Our priority as the First Minister has said repeatedly is getting our young people back to school and normalising their education as quickly as possible. This will mean for the first period of reopening up until the October school holidays there will be limited access to all our facilities during the school day, to maximise their potential use by school pupils.
This will be reviewed every three weeks and should schools not require to use these spaces for education purposes, then we will increase access as promptly as we can. Education has been a cornerstone of our community for generations and I’m sure that our service users will agree that this continues to be our priority in the short term as we hopefully progress out of the pandemic.
It is important to emphasise that facilities will not be operating normally for some time – pool and gym sessions will need to be booked in advance, there will be a ‘pay as you go’ system in place until it is possible to fully reinstate the ‘Slàinte Mhath’ scheme.
There will also be very limited capacity to meet social distancing and other national guidelines. Sport and Health staff have been working hard in the background to prepare for reopening and will update service users with more detailed information over the coming days via the CnES website, social media, local press etc.
Our objective will always be to offer a service that is safe for our service users and staff and we are grateful for your understanding in these uncertain times.”