A leisure facilities reopening survey carried out by Derry City and Strabane District Council seeking the views of the public and its users to help it plan and understand the public’s requirements ahead of reopening has closed, with almost 1800 people taking part.
Council leisure centres have been closed since mid- March as a result of the pandemic and work is at an advanced stage to prepare for reopening. Elected members of the Council will decide at their monthly Council meeting later today on dates for reopening. In anticipation of that decision, Council undertook a survey to gauge public opinion, and Council staff have been liaising with user groups and members to prepare for the reopening with extensive preparatory work taking place at its facilities to welcome the public back to the leisure centres and sports facilities.
Sixty-eight percent of respondents to the survey were paid members of Council facilities. The survey revealed that the most important factor to the public for leisure reopening is cleanliness and sanitisation, with 78% of respondents saying this was their top priority, ahead of their desire to get back to regular exercise or the need for social distancing.
Almost 70% of respondents in response to questions around reduced services, including no access to showers or changing rooms on a temporary basis, said they would be content to manage without and arrive at our centres gym ready.
Gym users, who account for 71% of the survey participants, said they were content for there to be reduced numbers using the facilities and for equipment to be moved to alternative locations, while those taking part in classes said they too would be content with reduced numbers and to take part in outdoor classes.
In anticipation of swimming pools reopening, 45% of survey respondents said they would be comfortable to return to swim with 21% saying they remain unsure.
Thanking the public for their participation in the survey, Director of Health and Communities Karen McFarland said it was extremely useful in assisting management and staff identify need and manage expectation ahead of any plans to reopen.
She said: “The survey was an excellent way for us to communicate with our users and the wider public, listen to what they had to say and take on board their comments and views. Our staff are working to prepare for reopening , the leisure centres have been redesigned to accommodate users with social distancing measures, sanitisation stands and signage. We have a booking system ready to go live and are at an advanced stages of getting an App ready in the coming weeks. Our staff are fully trained and health and safety of staff and the public are to the fore in everything that we are doing.
“Our elected members will decide at their monthly Full Council meeting tomorrow afternoon on a phased reopening plan that will include dates for reopening and how to make bookings. This information will be communicated as soon as possible. We want to thank our customers for their understanding and patience, it has been a difficult and challenging time for everyone, but with their continued support we look forward to welcome them all back to our facilities in the coming weeks.”