This weekend’s easing of restrictions will herald no return to full timetables at council-run leisure centres.
From a minute past midnight on Friday, a number of local authorities across Scotland – including Moray, Angus, the Highlands, Argyll and Bute, Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire – will move down from Level 2 of Covid restrictions to Level 1.
However, there is little sign of an unlocking of flumes and fun features to echo the screams of water flung youngsters anytime soon.
Facilities will remain on a reduced timetable and pre-booking stays in place.
Leisure centres say intensive cleaning regimes due to Covid, combined with social distancing requirements, tie their hands in terms of fully reopening.
Douglas Wilby, director of sport and leisure for High Life Highland, which runs facilities for Highland Council, says customer satisfaction in the facilities recently rated high.
“All of our gyms and swimming pools remain open in line with the current Scottish Government guidelines in terms of social distancing, pre-booking sessions and classes, allowing for extended cleaning procedures to be undertaken.”
However, the pending change in tiers “means there is no material impact on the service provided currently, and opening hours will remain the same as present”.
The picture is mirrored in Moray, Aberdeen City and Shire.
Moray Council says: “We’ve not quite got our full timetables back.
“All of our leisure facilities are open, apart from the Shand Centre in Dufftown, which, owned by NHS Scotland and operated by the council, is being used for NHS services.
“However, there are no beginner swimming lessons permitted yet and no indoor adult contact sport as per Scottish Government guidelines for the Covid protection levels.
“And some spinning classes haven’t resumed as the areas these take place in are very small so don’t provide sufficient space for social distancing.”
A spokesman for Live Life Aberdeenshire, the sports and cultural service of Aberdeenshire Council, said they too continue to operate on a reduced basis, “particularly given limited venue capacity in line with social distancing”.
However, moves are underway, he says, to refine timetables and offer “exciting new” opportunities for leisure and sport “as capacity to do so safely increases”.
He said all leisure facilities are open there, with the exception of Turriff Swimming Pool and Alford Ski Centre, which are undergoing refurbishment.
He added that many of the team were deployed to support “critical council services” and some of their venues have and continue to be used as vaccination centres.
A spokeswoman for Sport Aberdeen, which operates facilities on behalf of Aberdeen City Council, also said the the response from customers since reopening was “very positive”.
However, the move to Level 1 “will make minimal change to our existing timetables and venue opening times.
“We will await updated guidance from national governing bodies and continue to ensure that our open venues are safe, clean and ready.”