The Assistant Health Minister, who holds political responsibility for sport in Jersey, has suggested that government-run centres could remain closed until June at the earliest, despite all retail shops being permitted to return to trading earlier this week.
Les Quennevais and Springfield sports centres have both been used as Covid-19 testing sites of late and Pallett says strict adjustments need to be made before they can return to regular service. That is also true for facilities elsewhere, including Fort Regent, Langford, Oakfield and Haute Vallée School’s swimming pool.
Pallett, who hinted that sites could be out of action for at least another fortnight, said: ‘I don’t think we’re in a position to be giving an opening date for sports centres but the discussions are beginning, which is a good thing.
‘Springfield and Les Quennevais are being used as testing centres, so we’ve got to get through that first.
‘We are going to have to operate differently, I think everyone understands that. Physical distancing is here to stay for a little bit longer yet and the gym facilities will have to either be moved around or changed so people can keep a distance. And I’m sure the rules for swimming and the use of changing rooms will be looked at too.
‘From a business point of view we need to get them open as soon as possible, but it has to be done in a safe way that doesn’t risk people potentially catching Covid. And we have to protect the staff as well.’
Discussing the resumption of competitive sporting activities across the Island, Pallett said: ‘There haven’t been any wide discussions with regards to a return of sport. I think we’ll follow the UK for team sports but some single-participant sports like tennis and bowls have opened up as long as they adhere to the physical distancing rules.
‘A general return to sport is a way off yet.’
Limited outdoor fitness classes are being held at Les Quennevais from this week, while Active gym memberships remain frozen, with all fees waived, throughout the period of closure.
Barclay Harvey, operations manager for the government’s sports division, said: ‘We are following the safe exit framework and are currently awaiting sector-specific and public health guidance on when gyms will be allowed to re-open safely. Active gym customers will be contacted ahead of any re-opening and, in the meantime, we are supporting them through lockdown by giving them access to home exercise instruction via the Active app.’