When do swimming pools open in the UK?

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  • Swimming pools are set to open again in the UK as the country continues to ease out of lockdown.

    Following the first (successful) steps of the government’s roadmap, with the rule of six returning and people allowed to meet outdoors again, the government has authorised the re-opening of gyms and swimming pools as part of the next step out of lockdown.

    Swimmers of all abilities can pack their towels, goggles and swimwear and return to outdoor pools and lidos already, as the rules around exercise and sports outdoors have already eased. Now, indoor pools are set to reopen soon, too.

    When do indoor swimming pools open in the UK?

    Indoor swimming pools will open in England from Monday 12th April.

    According to the government’s website, “indoor leisure facilities” will re-open under Step 2 of the roadmap on Monday 12 April in England and this includes gyms and indoor swimming pools.

    Scotland is set to re-open pools from Monday 26th April. Wales have announced indoor pools will not open until Monday 10th May.

    Children can return to swimming lessons from 12th April, but over 18s will have to wait a little longer. Organised indoor adult sport – including swimming clubs or water-based activities for adults – will return under Step 3, on Monday 17th May.

    Close up of girl swimming in an open swimming pool

    Swimming lessons for kids can start again from April 12th. (Credit: Getty)

    In keeping with social-distancing guidelines, swimmers are only allowed to visit an indoor swimming pool alone or with other members of their household. This therefore prohibits people from meeting up and swimming with friends or family that are not in their household or support bubble.

    These guidelines will remain in place until Monday 21 June, when the Government will review social-distancing measures.

    Swim England chief executive Jane Nickerson said that the re-opening of indoor pools will be a ‘welcome relief’ to many: It’s a date that we have been looking forward to for some time and it will be a welcome relief to the millions of people that have been denied the opportunity to swim, dive, play water polo or enjoy artistic swimming to finally have that conformation.”

    Are outdoor swimming pools and lidos open?

    Outdoor swimming pools and lidos are currently open.

    The government gave the green light for “outdoor sports facilities such as tennis and basketball courts, and open-air swimming pools” to re-open on Monday 29 March.

    Swimming facilities are continuing to prioritise Covid-safe practises so swimmers can return to outdoor pools with peace of mind.

    In a number of swimming centres, they have decided to keep changing rooms and communal showers closed. Instead asking for visitors to turn up swim-ready. This means swimmers should have their bathing costume on under their clothes. You should also bring your own towel if possible.

    A woman at an open outdoor swimming pool adjusting goggles at side of pool

    Credit: Getty

    Outdoor swimming pools and lidos are also implementing the same social-distance measures as indoor pools. This means that individuals are asked to swim alone or only with other household members. Whilst at the pool, visitors are asked to keep their distance from others.

    The number of visitors is also to be capped and monitored. It will be mandatory to book ahead and online, selecting a timed swim session.

    Swimming goggles on starting block next to swimming pool

    Chlorine breaks down bacteria and viruses in the water, which helps reduce the risk of Covid-19 spreading in swimming pools. (Credit: Getty)

    In terms of pool hygiene, venues will reheat their water once every hour for sanitary reasons. The chlorine found in pool water is also effective at tackling the coronavirus.

    According to The Pool Water Treatment Advisory Group (PWTAG), chlorine breaks down bacteria and viruses present in the water. This greatly minimises the risk of transmitting Covid-19 in pools.

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    “The available evidence shows that the physical effect of the pool water and an appropriate relationship between free chlorine and pH value should inactivate the virus within 15-30 seconds,” says a PWTAG spokesperson.

    “The dilution of virus in the pool water volume will also reduce the risk of exposure and transmission.”

    Always check the website of your local outdoor pool for up to date guidance and to plan your visit in advance.

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