The safety of residents must come first when decisions are made about the reopening of leisure centres, a Lichfield councillor has said.
Although facilities can reopen from 25th July, current plans would see Friary Grange Leisure Centre remain shut until October.
Lichfield District Council is proposing to use a phased approach with only Burntwood Leisure Centre opening initially due to financial concerns as well as challenges around social distancing measures at Friary Grange.
Cllr Mike Wilcox told an overview and scrutiny committee meeting that the local authority could not afford to put people at risk.
“I’m sure we’d all love to see both centres reopen following COVID-19, but the reality is that we are still in a pandemic.
“The over-riding position has to be safety of our residents and that’s why I’m happy to support the actions being suggested.
“We must make sure that where we do open these centres that measures are robust. The last thing we want is to see any start of a local outbreak like those that we’ve seen in other parts of the country like Leicester.
“We really do have to tread carefully and move forward with great caution. In opening Burntwood we are doing that.”Cllr Mike Wilcox, Lichfield District Council
The meeting heard about plans to limit numbers in leisure centres when they reopen, with a pre-booking system being put in place in Burntwood.
The council’s head of operations Ben Percival also said that some sessions might be moved to outdoor spaces.
“While Friary Grange remains closed we’ll be looking at transferring some of them to Burntwood and to the outdoor gyms.
“That gives us greater opportunities to move support sessions into open air facilities where it’s a lot more safe from a COVID perspective.”Ben Percival, Lichfield District Council
“We must put our residents first and we must tread carefully”
Cllr Wilcox said the phased reopening would also allow the council to judge the numbers wanting to access leisure centres.
“I don’t think we’ll see people rushing back straight away, but if they do come back they want to feel that as an authority we’ve acted responsibly in making sure that all measures protect them and everyone they come into contact with.
“It’s a shame that we’re only able to open one centre, but I think it’s the right move.
“We must put our residents first and we must tread carefully.
“Hopefully later in the year we’ll be able to reopen all of the facilities.”Cllr Mike Wilcox, Lichfield District Council