In a boost for Kilkenny, the athletic track at the Watershed facility is once again being used by local people and sports groups, and is now available for public bookings.
Kilkenny City Harriers have been training on the track, and the public can also use the facility if they book in advance. Numbers are strictly limited to 12 people per hour, with groups to a maximum of four people.
At present, all other facilities remain closed in line with Covid-19 rules, but Watershed chief executive Tina Dowling is planning ahead to be ready as further restrictions are lifted. Permitted numbers have yet to be confirmed, but in the next two phases, in June, Ms Dowling says the Watershed is looking at outdoor classes and bootcamps, with equipment and marquees outside, with a system of protocols and sanitising.
It’s hoped the pool can reopen from July 20 as part of phase four: “A lot of people who do swimming are really missing it, so it will be nice for them,” said Ms Dowling.
“We don't know the numbers that will be allowed yet but we will work within the guidelines.”
Phase five, on August 10, will then see the return of the gym and sportshall.
“People are missing their routines, their gym and being in their classes,” said Ms Dowling. “There are fantastic online resources, but that doesn’t suit everyone.”
“There are a lot of protocols to follow to make sure people are safe. Obviously some people may feel a bit nervous, but we will be doing our best to make sure our members feel safe coming back,” she says.
Staff will also receive training and go through return to work procedures. It is important they feel safe going back to work also.
Meanwhile, Kilkenny’s TJ Reid has been leading calls for GAA clubs to be allowed reopen: “Public parks are open and were packed over the weekend, yet rural club areas within 5km of people’s homes can’t be accessed for use of safe walkways and to enjoy the grassroots of the community,” he tweeted.