RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - SEPTEMBER 17: (EDITORS NOTE: Vignetting caused by underwater housing.) Syrian refugee Ibrahim Al Hussein swims during a practice session for media in a training pool during the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games at Olympic Park on September 17, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The swimmer lost part of his leg during a rocket attack in war-torn Syria as he was trying to save a friend injured in a bombing nearby. He fled the war to Turkey and eventually boarded a rubber dinghy to cross the Aegean Sea to Greece, where he currently resides. Al Hussein competed in the men's 50 meter and 100 meter freestyle swimming contests during the Games. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Swim England is seeking clarification from the Government on what extra work they think is needed to ensure swimming pools are Covid-19 secure.

Chief executive Jane Nickerson has called on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to explain the science behind the decision not to reopen pools on 4 July.

Swim England is calling on its members, clubs, coaches, teachers, swim schools, swimmers and facility operators to back its #OpenOurPools campaign.

Chief Executive Jane Nickerson has said millions of people are being let down by the Government’s decision not to allow pools to reopen on 4 July

The announcement came as a surprise to the sector, who were expecting pools to be given the go-ahead to reopen in the latest easing of lockdown measures.

However, Mr Johnson announced that pools would not reopen on 4 July as originally indicated.

He told the daily press briefing the Government would be setting up task forces ‘to establish how they [pools] can open in a Covid-secure way as fast as possible’.

Jane has now written to Oliver Dowden, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, asking for a meeting as matter of urgency.

She said: “We were as surprised as anyone to hear that swimming pools would not be allowed to reopen on 4 July.

“I have asked for the scientific evidence why this is the case.

“If we are following the science on this, please explain to me – and our thousands of members who are desperate to return to the pool – the science behind opening cinemas and pubs but not a carefully controlled, environmentally friendly, chlorine-filled body of water?

“It does not make any sense at all.

Constructive role
“We have been working with the Government throughout June as part of their preparations for step three reopening.

“There was no indication that swimming pools would not be opened alongside the other businesses listed in step three and we have not been given a reason since the announcement.

“It was extremely disappointing as we believe our Returning to the Pool guidance has comprehensively proved that swimming pools can be safely used.

“We have also been a key part of the DCMS working group that has developed the still unpublished ‘Step three Grass Roots Sports Facilities including Swimming Pools Guidance’. This piece of government guidance has been ready since earlier this month.

“We’re obviously keen to play a constructive role in any new task force and discover what additional measures are deemed necessary to get pools open once again as soon as possible.”

Meanwhile, Jane has thanked everyone in the aquatics community for their tremendous backing for the #OpenOurPools campaign.

“We have been overwhelmed by the level of support the campaign has had,” she said. “To receive more than 30,000 signatures in less than 24 hours shows the true feeling of our members and their clubs.

“A lot of people also rely on pools to help manage physical and mental health conditions and it’s important that these people are not forgotten in this crisis.

“Youngsters are also missing out on their swimming lessons and being denied the opportunity to learn a valuable life skill.

“We will continue to fight on their behalf to #OpenOurPools and ensure they are a safe environment for everyone who wants to return to the water.”


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