Thank you for contacting me about the closure of swimming pools.
I am closely attentive to the concerns that Swim England and others have expressed with regard to the 28-day closure of swimming pools from 5 November. I agree that swimming pools are vital to the country's physical and mental health, and in particular those whose physical circumstances make swimming the ideal form of exercise.
The purpose of all closures is to reduce contact between people in order to curtail infection, and Ministers have taken the view that this could not be achieved by making exceptions, no matter how attractive they might appear. I appreciate, for instance, that the chlorination of pools may mitigate viral transmission, but it does not affect the journey between them and the home. The objective is to cut out all activity outside the home that is not immediately essential, preventing infection so that restrictions can be lifted.
I have been assured that as soon as Ministers are in a position to start lifting restrictions, grassroots sports will be among the first to return.
People will still be able to leave home to exercise outdoors or visit an outdoor public place. This can be done with the people you live with, with your support bubble or, when on your own, with one person from another household. Subject to these restrictions, there is no limit to how much exercise people can take.
I fully appreciate the impact that these closures will have on pools and their operators. That is why I welcome the measures the Government has set out to support employers to retain workers even if they cannot afford to pay them, so that they can continue to work where they can and be paid at least 80 per cent of their salaries up to a maximum of £2,500 per month. In addition, a £100 million scheme has been announced specifically to support local authority leisure centres, helping keep them open across the country when the temporary restrictions end.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.