As we move closer to coming out of lockdown, we’d like to share with you more of our plans for re-opening venues and re-starting activities. We know this time of great uncertainty is having a huge impact on our lives, and we want to let you know we are doing all we can to help our customers.
Following the announcement from the First Minister on 9th July, it’s encouraging to see that there have been significant changes announced as part of the Scottish Government’s route map easing the current lockdown arrangements.
Over the past few months, we have been developing our own plans, detailing how services and programmes will restart and re-open in line with the Government’s decisions with the overriding consideration being staff and customers safety and wellbeing.
The Coronavirus pandemic has significantly impacted our service provision and our financial position. KA Leisure is a not for profit organisation and a registered Scottish Charity, we rely on customer income and a financial contribution from North Ayrshire Council to deliver our services and we utilise any surpluses generated from our day to day operations to re-invest in facilities and services. Closure of our facilities during the current Coronavirus pandemic has presented many financial and operational challenges and at this stage there is a projected £2.8million loss of income for the current financial year.
Working in partnership during these uncertain times is more important than ever. We are grateful to North Ayrshire Council for their continued support and guidance during this time. To ensure we meet the needs and expectations of our North Ayrshire communities as best we can under these COVID 19 circumstances we will continue to engage with North Ayrshire Council and other relevant partners to ensure we operate facilities and deliver services safely in accordance with published guidelines.
Although these are still incredibly difficult times, our teams across the organisation have continued, where possible, to support communities across North Ayrshire.
Since lockdown began our expert fitness and wellbeing teams took early action to put the tools and platforms in place to enable our fitness offering to go online and continue to support our most vulnerable customers. While behind the scenes members of the team complete essential and critical functions to enable us to resume activities and re-open venues when it is safe to do so.
We hope you have been enjoying the variety of fitness classes available and have had the opportunity to join us on a virtual walk. Details of our digital programmes are available here.
As we move forward, it is necessary to adjust how we operate and deliver services in order to comply with Scottish Government, public health guidance and industry and sports governing bodies guidelines. We want to ensure that both our staff and customers feel comfortable, confident and safe in our venues, by focusing on customer physical distancing, protection measures and enhanced cleanliness and hygiene.
Unfortunately given the complexities involved, particularly in relation to physical distancing, increased hygiene measures and the process of returning staff to the workplace following being furloughed, it will not be possible to open all our facilities and activities at the same time. Therefore, we plan to re-open venues and resume activities on a phased basis.
It was great to welcome customers back to our golf courses at the end of May. Despite revised methods of operating at a significantly reduced capacity across the 3 courses, we are delighted to record that our customer visits increased during June 2020 in comparison to June 2019.
Following the recent announcement from the First Minister, we welcome the decision to allow children under the age of 18 to return to participation in outdoor sports activities as part of this current phase and we are pleased to confirm that from Monday 27th July our synthetic football pitches will be opening at Almswall Park, Kilwinning, and The Circuit, Irvine for children’s training activity.
Please familiarise yourself with our Outdoor Sports Information Guide and the Scottish FA guidance which has been issued https://kaleisure.com/making-the-comeback-information/outdoor-sports-facilities/
We are still awaiting confirmation regarding operating within North Ayrshire Council school estate, as soon as we have information, we will advise customers of the re-opening schedule of these facilities.
We deliver a broad range of innovative programmes across our portfolio of venues which offers a range of social and recreational opportunities for the communities of North Ayrshire. As you will be aware the Scottish Government’s route map outlines the re-introduction of sport and leisure activities across each of the four phases, as yet there is no confirmed timeframe for opening indoor leisure facilities however, we are hopeful that there will be an announcement by the First Minister soon which provides some clarity on when it will be possible for these to resume.
For us to be able to open we must comply with all relevant guidelines to safeguard the health and wellbeing of our staff and customers. Given the complexities of re-opening such a broad range of leisure provision, it is our intention to re-launch activities and services on a phased approach which will enable the organisation to adopt all essential guidance.
As soon as dates are confirmed our phased approach for indoor activities will commence with resuming fitness across a selection of our venues, followed by the phased opening of our 4 swimming pools. In addition to fitness and swimming activities our programme also includes a range of other indoor activities for which the Scottish Government has yet to publish re-opening guidance.
We understand that there have been specific concerns raised regarding the future of the ice rink at Auchenharvie Leisure Centre and we would like to take this opportunity to reiterate that there is no intention to close this facility. However, there has been a decision to delay the re-opening of the ice rink and temporarily relocate the gym to this area for fitness use until the end of 2020. This is due to the lack of available guidance and the practicalities of managing physical distancing on an ice rink, and rather than leave the space redundant for a period the decision was taken to re-purpose on a temporary basis to maximise attendance.
Other activity areas that we will provide an update on when we are in a position to do so include; theatres, the visitor attraction at Vikingar!, health suites and soft play.
We understand customers may be disappointed that activities or services may not be re-opening immediately following any Scottish Government decision and, in some instances, may not re-open for an elongated period. Decisions relating to the potential re-opening timeframe will be difficult and will be based on operational and financial considerations. We will continue to adopt a flexible approach and revise our plan in light of emerging guidance.
We eagerly await further guidance from the Scottish Government relating to resuming the remaining activities that we offer and would like to take this opportunity to thank our staff, partners and customers for their support and patience in these challenging times.
We share the disappointment and concerns of all our customers during this disruption and look forward to welcoming you back in the future.
Meantime check out our FAQ’s info guide and signup to our newsletter to receive regular updates.