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01 July 2020
By SARAH MATTHEWS
The wait is over for Horsham Aquatic Centre users keen to return to swimming and fitness programs, with staff opening the centre to the public today.
Centre manager Sam Winter said although she was excited to welcome back the community, she hoped patrons would be understanding about a staggered return to operations.
“The public has been wanting us to be open since the day we closed,” she said.
“Since restrictions eased on June 1 they’ve been waiting to hear when we were going to open. Now, a month later, we are officially opening the doors.
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“As excited as people are to get back in the pool or gym, they need to remember that social distancing is still important.
“That’s why we’ve capped our hours and the amount of people who are allowed to use each facility.”
Ms Winter said each of the centre’s two pools could accommodate 20 people, with 20 patrons allowed in the health centre and 10 in group fitness classes.
“Those restrictions are set by the government, not by us,” she said.
“We have introduced hour sessions for all parts of the centre, which will allow people time to complete their workout and leave, while giving us time to clean in between.
“This allows more community members to access the facility, but also, the restrictions are so tight and we need to make sure we are abiding by them.”
Ms Winter said patrons must book to access the centre and would have to pay a casual fee, with memberships to remain suspended.
“There is a bit of frustration at the moment that we’re not reinstating memberships, but unfortunately, we can’t offer the service we offered pre-COVID,” she said.
“The casual rate has been heavily discounted.”
Opening hours have changed, with the centre operating morning and afternoon sessions from Monday to Friday, 6am to noon and 3pm to 7pm.
The centre will open from 8am to noon on Saturdays and is closed on Sundays.
Ms Winter said all staff would undergo COVID-safe training and would be re-inducted into their roles.
She said between 10 and 15 of the 70 staff employed before the government-imposed shutdown would resume their roles.
“It’s quite low, but knowing we’ve got restricted hours we can’t bring everyone back,” she said.
“Getting our staff back will be tricky, but a lot were fortunate enough to get employment in other businesses in Horsham, in particular the hospital.”
Ms Winter urged patrons to ensure physical-distancing and make use of hygiene stations on site.
“Our change rooms and toilets are open, but our preference is for patrons to come ready to use the facility and leave in their workout wear,” she said.
Ms Winter said she hoped to be able to open additional services in the near future.
“I’m hoping we can start the creche up again in about three weeks,” she said.
“Swimming lessons aren’t returning yet, because they will affect how many patrons we can have in the pool, but we are hoping to run some pop-up swimming lessons in term three.”
• Horsham Sharks Swimming Club leaders have welcomed the reopening, with members now able to prepare for an upcoming competition season.
The entire July 1, 2020 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!