HALO Leisure chiefs have revealed they will open swimming pools across the county for the first time in nearly six months next week.

While pools in England were given the go-ahead to reopen by the Government on July 25, Halo bosses were hesitant as they were unsure if it would be financially viable.

But it has been confirmed now that the pools in Ledbury, Leominster and Ross-on-Wye will welcome swimmers back on Monday (September 7).

Regional manager Alex Haines said it won’t be the same as before lockdown, as swimmers will be encouraged to book online in advance and avoid changing rooms.

He said: “Our capacity is going to be affected. We are following the Swim England guidance; in fact what we’re doing is exceeding the guidance. It does affect capacity quite significantly.”

He added: “Essentially, the principles for opening centres are exactly the same, but the layout of the pools is different so the actual procedures on site will differ slightly.

“What we’re trying to do initially is have a bit of a one-way system, and we want people to arrive what we call swim ready.

“What that means is they have their swimming costume underneath, and they will effectively register in the building, go onto poolside to change and put their stuff in a bag.

“They’ll have their swim and when they get out the pool we don’t really want them using the changing rooms that much.

“Some people will dry off and go, but other people will want to use them but we want to minimise the use and control the people going into the changing rooms. That’s the area that will take time to clean and get ready for people coming in.”

The registered charity had initially planned to welcome back customers to its swimming pools in Ledbury, Leominster and Ross during August.

But chief executive Scott Rolfe said last week the reality of operating with significantly reduced capacity to support social distancing, which results in a considerable reduction in income, means it was not economically possible for them to reopen.

He said Halo was working with the council to look at what support was available locally and nationally to get the pools open.

But in an apparent U-turn on Tuesday (September 1), Halo said it would now reopen the pools.

Hereford Leisure Pool will remain closed for now as work continues to repair flood damage, but it’s hoped children’s swimming lesson could restart this month.