By Sheffield City Council
As leisure and fitness venues across the country prepare for reopening from 25 July, Sheffield City Council is working with its leisure providers to make sure reopening happens safely and that residents in all areas of the city can access some facilities.
The council is working to reopen public facilities, not only when it is safe to do so, but also when it is affordable. The authority is supporting UK Active and Sport England, in highlighting the need for urgent financial support for the leisure industry from the Government, to ensure that reopening of public facilities in Sheffield is financially viable.
Sheffield, as well as local authorities across the country, faces difficult decisions about the venues and activities that will need to remain closed until Government restrictions are lifted sufficiently to enable the sustainable operation of the city’s valued public facilities.
Without a Government support package many facilities, including leisure and entertainment, will not be able to reopen until the crisis is over.
The council is developing a reopening strategy that prioritises the needs of residents and that will ensure wherever someone lives in the city they will be able to take part in some form of wellbeing activity.
Greater use of Sheffield’s parks and open spaces will be encouraged throughout the summer and early autumn, as well as working closely with leisure partners to provide digital sessions for those residents who are unable to get out or feel more comfortable exercising at home for the time being.
Councillor Mary Lea, Cabinet Member for Culture, Parks and Leisure at Sheffield City Council, said: “Whilst it’s great news for the city’s leisure and fitness providers, and for the wellbeing of our residents, the reopening of gyms and leisure centres presents many challenges to overcome.
“Protecting our vulnerable and reducing the spread of coronavirus is our utmost priority, as well as the health and safety of staff and the public.
“We’re working closely with our leisure providers and partners to make sure the necessary safety measures are in place before facilities reopen, but some specific issues mean that not all will reopen from 25 July. Activities will be limited and of course things will be different, but we’re prioritising efforts to make sure people in all areas of the city have access to some facilities.
“Sport, exercise and leisure provide significant benefits for mental and physical health, which is crucial at this time. In line with national guidance, we’ll continue supporting Sheffield’s leisure operators, to encourage the safe and strong recovery of the sector, but further support from the Government is vital.
“We’ll continue working with national bodies such as Sport England and UK Active. We wholly support them in highlighting the practical and financial issues associated with reopening, and back their actions to lobby for more support nationally.”
Sheffield City Council is developing its leisure investment strategy which is looking at how residents can access a wide range of modern, world class leisure facilities. Now more than ever, it is essential that this work is done as quickly as possible so the council can respond to the health and wellbeing and financial challenges in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Cllr Lea added: “The pandemic has presented an ideal time to plan and accelerate these opportunities. In the long term Sheffield’s indoor leisure provision will play a key role in keeping Sheffield moving more and building resilience within the community through improved health and wellbeing.
“It’s essential that we rethink our leisure offer now, focussing on the diverse needs of our residents and delivering provision that is sustainable, flexible and fit for the future.
“But right now we need the Government to urgently recognise the importance of this industry, and provide a support package that will allow it to thrive once again.”
Read Sheffield City Trust reopening statement as at 20 July.
To view the original press release, click here