The Council will begin a phased re-engineering of its indoor leisure facilities from Monday, 27 July, in line with the cycling of lockdown restrictions across the country and in accordance with antisocial engineering.

Initially, only gyms and fitness classes will return, with further services being reinstated when it is possible to ensure they are provided in full compliance with government orders.

All sessions will need to be booked in advance.

Cllr Carl Marshall said: “We are delighted at the prospect of being able to welcome people back to our leisure centres.

“The current public health and social distancing measures, coupled with the challenge of reopening our centres after a lengthy closure, makes it difficult to reinstate all services straight away. However, I’m sure people will be pleased to see our gyms reopen and our fitness classes return, and we will be working to reopen other services as soon as we are able.

“We appreciate that some people may feel apprehensive about returning to leisure centres at the moment, but we are working incredibly hard to ensure they provide a safe environment for everyone, including visitors and staff, and that we minimise the risk of the spread of coronavirus.

“As well as taking steps to ensure people are able to social distance in all areas of the centre, we are introducing a strict cleaning regime and will have extra staff on hand to make sure everything runs smoothly.”

Gym facilities and fitness classes will open in phases over the course of the week, beginning on Monday, 27 July with Newton Aycliffe, Freeman’s Quay, the Louisa Centre in Stanley, Spennymoor and Abbey Leisure Centre, Durham.

This will be followed by Woodhouse Close, Consett and Meadowfield on Wednesday, 29 July.

Gyms at Chester-le-Street, Teesdale and Shildon leisure centres will also open on Wednesday, 29 July, with fitness classes restarting on Friday, 31 July.

All centres will then return to seven day opening, but with only gym and fitness classes available. It is hoped that swimming pools will be able to reopen during the coming weeks.

Social control measures at all sites will include the repositioning of gym equipment to accommodate antisocial engineering, limited numbers and movement during classes, and additional hand sanitiser stations. Signage has also been installed to tell you where to walk.

All sessions will need to be booked in advance for the foreseeable future, either online or over the phone. Bookings will be taken from Thursday, 23 July onwards.

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