Leisure facilities across the borough will reopen from 6am on Monday 12 April, with the Wokingham, Woodley and Lower Earley libraries also re-opening their buildings on set days and at reduced hours for browsing and borrowing of books.
Loddon Valley, Bulmershe, St Crispin’s, Ryeish Green Sports Hub and Arborfield Green leisure centres will all re-open their swimming pools and resume swimming lessons on this date. Their gyms and indoor sports facilities will also re-open for individual exercise, or exercise with households or support bubbles. It is hoped that group exercise will resume at Step 3 of the government’s roadmap (no earlier than 17 May).
The Council is continuing to work closely with Places Leisure to ensure its centres offer a Covid-secure environment that is safe for both colleagues and customers. Key measures include signage to encourage social distancing, a requirement to wear facemasks when moving around the buildings, improved ventilation and pre-booking for all activities on the Places Locker app or via its website.
In addition, the Council is planning to reopen the Wokingham, Woodley and Lower Earley library buildings on set days from next week for book browsing and borrowing, as well as click and collect on Saturdays to manage building capacity safely.
Woodley Library will be open for browsing and borrowing on Mondays (9am – 1pm), Wednesdays (9am – 1pm) and Thursdays (1pm – 5pm), Wokingham on Tuesdays (1pm – 5pm), Wednesdays (9.30am – 1.30pm) and Fridays (9.30am – 1.30pm) and Lower Earley on Mondays (9.30am – 1.30pm), Tuesdays (1pm – 5pm) and Thursdays (9.30am – 1.30pm). All three libraries will open for click and collect only on Saturdays (9.30am – 1pm).
Measures are in place at all three sites to allow for safe visiting; including social distancing, a one-way system, a requirement to wear masks and hand sanitizer stations.
Graham Ebers, Deputy Chief Executive at Wokingham Borough Council said: “We know that lockdown has been extremely tough for so many in our community. Exercise is important for our mental and physical health and we hope that the re-opening of local leisure facilities will have huge benefits for residents. In addition to this, our libraries offer much needed facilities to a broad range of people and we’re doing everything we can to keep all of these venues open and as safe as possible during the easing of restrictions.
“As we move through the roadmap out of lockdown, it is important we all continue to play a part in protecting one another. So, please follow the rules and take every precaution necessary when visiting and using these venues.”
While leisure centres and libraries have been closed, council staff who usually work in these areas have been redeployed to help with the Covid-19 response across Wokingham Borough. In fact, team members have supported with a range of activities, including:
- Supporting teams at the council’s Shute End and Microsoft Campus lateral flow testing centres
- Assisting with contact tracing by reaching out to people in the Borough who have tested positive for Covid-19
- Phoning carers, care homes, domiciliary care providers and Clinically Extremely Vulnerable residents to identify support needs
- Contacting providers of Children’s Services to understand their Covid arrangements and direct them to support if necessary
“We’ve been astounded by the resilience of our residents, and employees, throughout the pandemic,” said Graham Ebers. “We want to thank everyone for their understanding and patience and we’re very excited to be getting these services back up and running for you.”