Indoor swimming pools have now reopened across the region after lockdown restrictions were eased by the Government.
But there are a string of Covid-safe measures in place at all venues to ensure the safety of staff and customers.
Here, we have rounded up all the rules you must follow if you want to go swimming in your area.
They include arriving at the pool in your swimwear and maintaining distance from others in the water.
We contacted all seven local authorities in the North East to ask what restrictions they have at leisure centres and how parents can take their little ones for a swim.
We have summarised the details below, alongside information on how to book sessions.
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North Tyneside Council’s pools at Hadrian Leisure Centre in Wallsend, Tynemouth Pool, the Lakeside Centre in Killingworth and Waves in Whitley Bay have reopened.
Booking to attend any of these venues is essential. There are timetables on the council’s website informing the public when lane swimming, recreational swimming and swimming lessons are available.
To comply with social distancing measures, the number of people allowed into facilities at any one time has been significantly reduced.
Total swimming time is one hour – that includes five minutes to get ready, a 45-minute swim, and 10 minutes to get changed after.
• Come ready to swim – with your swimwear underneath your clothing.
• Use hand washing facilities or hand sanitiser.
• Shower before entering the pool (pre swim only).
• Keep to the left-hand side of areas wherever possible.
• Maintain social distancing while using the changing and pool areas.
• Use your designated cubicle and locker on entry and exit (number issued at reception).
• Remain in the pool you have booked.
• Follow the entry and exit points of the pool.
• Respect others space and social distance while swimming.
• Follow lane swimming guidance (available on council’s website).
• Get in the pool if you are experiencing any symptoms of coronavirus (a high temperature, cough, difficulty breathing or a loss of taste or smell).
• Share equipment.
• Shower after your swim.
More information is available here.
Pools in Northumberland are offering lane swimming, with the option of a slow, medium or fast swimming lane, as well as Swim for All sessions, which allow children. Some sites may only have Swim for All sessions available on weekends, with lane swimming on week days.
Swimmers must register and pre-book online as numbers in the pools will be restricted.
Members can book 14 days in advance and non members (Pay as you Go) are able to book up to seven days in advance. There is more information here on the Active Northumberland website.
Sessions last 45 minutes, customers are encouraged to have 15 minutes post swim changing time where possible to ensure the team has time to clean.
Swimming pools that have reopened include:
- Ashington Leisure Centre
- Blyth Sports Centre
- Concordia Leisure Centre
- Riverside Leisure Centre, Morpeth
- Ponteland Leisure Centre
- Prudhoe Waterworld
- Swan Centre, Berwick
- Wentworth Leisure Centre, Hexham
- Willowburn Sports & Leisure Centre, Alnwick
If booking lane swimming, for children under 14 years they must be accompanied by a responsible adult in the same lane as them.
- When you come for your pre-booked swim, arrive on time, in your swimming costume/trunks ready for your swim.
- Remove your footwear before coming into the changing rooms and bring them in with you to put in a locker.
- Cubicles and lockers have been numbered. Swimmers must use the same numbered cubicle and locker.
- Once you’ve changed, take a quick pre-swim shower.
- Follow the directions to your pre-booked lane. There will be signs at the end of each lane.
- You can use personal equipment as long as it doesn’t affect social distancing.
- You can take a quick shower after your swim.
- Use the same cubicle to get changed.
As time goes on, the council will review and adapt all these measures, so keep an eye on the Active Northumberland app and website for updates.
To go swimming at one of South Tyneside Council’s leisure centres, you must book a session in advance.
Swimming venues include Haven Point, Hebburn Central and Jarrow Community Pool. Parents are welcome to bring their children along. See this website for more information on sessions available and how to book.
Swimming sessions are 45 minutes long
There is a 30-minute gap between sessions, to allow swimmers to leave and for cleaning
Before you visit
Do not come swimming if you feel unwell
Bring any equipment or swimming aids with you, and make sure they are clean and easy to identify as yours before you arrive
Arrive ready to swim, with your swim suit under your clothes if possible
When you get there
Please wear a face covering when entering, you can remove it when using the facilities
Use contactless payments where possible
Spend as little time as possible in the changing rooms
Keep a safe distance from others
Use the pre-swim showers before getting in the pool
After your swim
Spend as little time as possible in the changing rooms
Hair dryers are not allowed
Shower at home
Durham County Council’s swimming pools have reopened. Lane swimming, swimming lessons and family fun sessions (small pool, weekends only) will be available and you must pre-book your visit.
The pools include:
Freeman’s Quay pool
Newton Aycliffe pool
The Louisa Centre pool
Woodhouse Close pool
Consett pool is temporarily closed for essential maintenance works.
Similar safety measures are in place at the pools that are open, including coming ready to swim. More details are available here.
Pools in Sunderland, managed by Everyone Active on behalf of Sunderland City Council, have reopened.
They are running under 18’s swimming lessons, lane swimming, public swimming and under 18’s club sessions. Check with venues to see what sessions are available and when.
Public swimming will operate with reduced numbers and all sessions must be booked online in advance – either through the website or app.
Sessions will be a maximum of 50-minutes long to allow cleaning of changing facilities.
Swimmers are asked to arrive ‘beach ready’ for their session. This will avoid the need to use the changing rooms prior to their session. Social distancing must be maintained in the pool.
When attending family sessions, customers are welcome to bring along their own individual fun toys. Items you can bring include foam/inflatable/soft balls, small floats or inflatables and dive sticks.
More details and booking information is available here.
In Newcastle, the council doesn’t directly operate any pools in the city.
For measures at specific venues, people need to check with the individual operators.
They will have measures in place such as limited numbers, pre-booking and people attending “pool ready”.
Elswick Pool is among those to have reopened and has family swimming sessions.
From Saturday, May 1, Gateshead Council will be welcoming people back to the swimming pools at Dunston Leisure Centre.
To ensure the health and safety of customers, a number of changes have been made to operating procedures.
These are intended to aid social distancing, avoid or reduce time in moist environments where virus transmission can more easily occur, and overall to reduce dwell time in the centre.
Details of these can be found on the GO Gateshead website here.
There are a range of swimming options available, including lane swimming, dedicated family sessions across the large and small pools, as well as SEND sessions for families with special educational need and disabilities. Booking details can be found here.
All sessions must be booked in advance and are subject to a maximum capacity limit which will be regularly reviewed.
The family swimming sessions are intended for children of all ages. Float and sinking toys and swimming aids are permitted in these sessions. Children are also permitted to join lane swimming sessions according to their level of competence.
Angela Douglas, the council’s cabinet member for culture, sport and leisure, said: “We know just how important our leisure centres are to Gateshead’s communities, and while the council has chosen to take phased approach to the reopening of our gyms and swimming pools in response to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, we are delighted to be reopening Dunston Leisure Centre this weekend.
“We’ve worked hard to make our swimming pools as accessible as possible to everyone by developing an extensive range of different swimming sessions, so whether you’re a family looking to bring the children for a splash about or someone who enjoys swimming for fitness, there really is something for all.”