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Councillors unanimously agree to phased reopening of MEA leisure facilities

Elected Members have voted unanimously to reopen a number of leisure centre services in Mid and East Antrim.

Firstly, access will be made available for local swimming clubs, with preparations being finalised to reopen gyms and fitness facilities from Friday 11 September. Ballymena-based Ladybirds Playgroup, Day Nursery and Afterschool Club will also return to the town's Seven Towers centre.

Council is working hard to finalise plans for pools to open safely for the wider public, and stringent health and safety measures are expected to be in place for this to happen from the beginning of October.

The move to reopen leisure centres was approved by councillors at a special meeting on Tuesday evening.

It was proposed by Councillor Keith Turner and seconded by Councillor James McKeown.

Speaking afterwards, Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Councillor Peter Johnston, said:

"We’re really looking forward to reopening our doors and welcoming our residents and colleagues back to our centres. "The safety of the public and our staff remains our top priority and we thank the public for their patience over recent months.

"It has been a hugely challenging time for everybody and the threat posed by Covid-19 remains very real, so we must continue to be cautious, vigilant and do all we can to prevent the spread of the virus.

"I'm delighted so many people have been remaining active since March, taking advantage of the many superb outdoor attractions on our doorsteps and joining in with our outdoor classes and online fitness classes and training sessions at home.

"The health and wellbeing of residents in Mid and East Antrim is a key priority for us as a Council, as set out in our Corporate and Community Plans.

"Many will be delighted to get back to our pools and fitness facilities in the coming weeks.

"We are blessed with exceptional sporting talent in this borough, including multi-award winning swimmers, who will relish the phased reopening of our centres to continue their training.

"We are continuing to work hard, alongside staff and trade unions, to ensure these facilities remain a safe environment for visitors and our colleagues when they reopen and that we strictly adhere to the guidance and advice of the Public Health Agency and Northern Ireland Executive.

"The very latest information around specific activities and services, and how you can book your slot and get involved, will be made available on Council's social media platforms and in the local media.

"My thanks again to our citizens and all the staff at Mid and East Antrim Borough Council who continue to work so hard to provide safe and excellent services to our community."