The Press and Journal (Inverness, Highlands, and Islands)
Outdoor locations to have phased opening
● Leisure charity warns of slow and tentative process
Leisure, sport and culture charity High Life Highland (HLH) is preparing to reopen its facilities – but has warned users it will be a slow and tentative process.
It is planning a phased approach, which may involve opening outdoor locations such as Inverness Botanic Gardens and Nursery first.
There may also be adjusted opening hours for other facilities and waiting lists put in place for new HLH members.
The phased recovery process, which is being carried out in line with Scottish Government guidelines, is being led by corporate programme manager Simon Swanson.
He said: “The situation facing us at the moment is very fluid, with guidance being re-evaluated frequently, and as a result we have to be flexible in our approach to reopening in terms of timing and feasibility.
“This announcement means we can start looking at outdoor locations such as Inverness Botanic Gardens and Nursery and how we will be able to operate the site at some level and still meet the current guidelines.”
HLH chief executive Steve Walsh said the return would “not be like turning a light switch on”.
He said teams have been working hard in the background to prepare for the Covid-19 bounce-back and were all keen to get back to some normality as quickly as possible.
“This will encompass thorough cleaning regimes, social distancing and hand sanitising measures as part of the daily programme,” he said.
“To accommodate the new measures and provide a safe environment for our customers to enjoy means our opening hours will have to be adjusted for the foreseeable future.
“It is not going to be like turning a light switch on.
“We are already working on what Phase 3 of the route map might look like for the charity and have identified that the increased use of technology will be vital to the process of reopening, enabling customers to book spaces and help us manage capacity within sites to ensure an enjoyable experience.
“We will monitor the guidelines closely over the coming weeks and will fully implement any further steps that may be required to protect people using our gym space, for example, prior to opening.”
HLH will provide further updates through its website and social media channels once dates and timescales are confirmed.
Meanwhile, HLH board chairman Ian Ross has thanked the hundreds of HLH staff on furlough leave for volunteering during the crisis.
He said: “They have been using their work-related skills and qualifications to volunteer and assist with essential work in communities across the Highlands.”