The Queensland Government’s approval of an Industry COVIDSafe Plan for Swimming Pools and Aquatic Centres is set to see an acceleration of the reopening of facilities in the state.
With aquatic facilities in Queensland currently able to operate for up to 20 people and, from 10th July, 100 people, the acceptance of the Industry Plan, presented by the Queensland Aquatic Industry Alliance, resulted from key industry stakeholders working as a group over past three weeks to create a plan that meets the needs of the Queensland Government and enables operators to open pools again.
Explaining the Alliance’s achievement, Coordinator Reece Rackley noted:
“(as) the aquatic industry is fragmented with many stakeholders and groups, the Alliance was formed so we could respond to the Government in a cohesive manner and produce a plan that addresses the needs of operators and patrons of Swimming pools and Aquatic centres.”
“The group has been amazing to work with (and) coupled with the support and advice from both local and state government we are thrilled to be in a position to have the industry plan approved so we can open pools and aquatic centre in a viable manner. “
The Alliance includes of leaders from City Venue Management (representing venue managers); Australian Swim Schools Association, Australian Swim Coaches and Teachers Association, Australian Leisure Facilities Association QLD (ALFAQ), Swimming Queensland, Royal Lifesaving Society – Queensland and Brisbane City Council and highlights the following aspects of the Industry Plan:
• Patrons of school age or younger which use swimming pools and accompanying facilities for training, education and general use purposes may do so provided buffer zones are managed between adult patrons and children
• Swimming lessons can resume with instructor-led classes in the water. Here social distancing will apply where practical but the safety and hands-on nature of learn to swim education is recognised and approved.
• For Adult Patrons – Indoor/Outdoor pools: capacity limited to a maximum of one person per 10 square metres of water surface area.
• Venues with Multiple Pools/Spaces can have multiple groups of 20 for adults and larger groups of children so long as social distance between groups is observed and patron details are recorded and kept
The Alliance highlights that pools and aquatic centres offer significant employment opportunities, community health and fitness benefits and provide essential water safety education and awareness. It cites Royal Life Saving Society – Australia estimates that the industry in Queensland employs more than 13,500 people, and contributes more than $588 million to the state’s economy.
It notes that as these venues are expensive to run and are labour intensive, the news of an approved plan will be well received by industry operators who have faced significant challenges throughout this pandemic due to the short notice of closing; financial impact of the loss of trade, the holding cost of ‘hibernation’, and impact on Staff and Customers. .
Rackley, the Chief Executive of City Venue Management, adds:
“Throughout this process as an operator of 23 Venues in South East Queensland the we have been very conscious of the real health issue the world is dealing with and whilst Queensland has flattened the curve reopening pools in a manner that is safe for the public and ensures we do it with appropriate COVIDSafe measure in place has always been at the forefront of our minds.”
“The Alliance also wanted to ensure the plan was practical and recognised the diversity of venues in the industry and could be implemented by all, not just for one group, be it recreational or elite swimming, the facilities should cater for all. It will take a few days to get the water warm but we are sure the swimmers old and young will be eager to dip their toes back in the water.”
The Alliance will be issuing information to the members of the various organisations and the Industry Plan templates will be available on the Queensland Government website shortly.
Queensland Aquatic Industry Alliance representatives:
• Venue Operators – represented by Reece Rackley, Chief Executive, City Venue Management
• Australian Swim Schools Association – Wayne Pollock, President
• Australian Swim Coaches and Teachers Association – Brendon Ward, Chief Executive
• Swimming QLD – Kevin Hasemann, Chief Executive
• Australian Leisure Facilities Association QLD – Dan Kwaczynski, President
• Royal Life Saving QLD -Paul Barry, Chief Executive
• Brisbane City Council – Tim Flood, City Venues Manager
From today (Friday 5th June), participants in sports such as AFL, football, rugby league and union and hockey in Queensland will be able to start training with their teams as a result of an agreement of an Industry COVIDSafe Plan for field sports.