WESTLOCK – Westlock’s Rotary Spirit Centre and pool are aiming to fully reopen to the public next Thursday — a day town officials hope will signal the end of the yo-yo openings and closings over the past year due to shifting provincial COVID-19 restrictions.
Stage 2 of Alberta's Open for Summer Plan, pegged for June 10 which is two weeks after 60 per cent of Albertans 12 and older have received at least one dose of vaccine and hospitalizations are below 500 and declining, allows for facilities like indoor recreation, museums and libraries to open at one third of fire code occupancy. Meanwhile, gyms and fitness studios have also been cleared to open for solo and drop-in activities, while indoor fitness classes need to follow three-metre distancing guidelines — indoor and outdoor youth and adult sports are also being allowed to resume with no restrictions.
Town community services director Gerry Murphy, who was part of the town’s COVID recovery taskforce meeting May 31 to discuss their plans, said the news is welcomed as they’ve been forced to open and then close the facilities repeatedly — the most recent provincially-mandated COVID-19 shutdown came May 9. He also noted the relaxed, and in some cases the elimination of past restrictions, will allow patrons to use both facilities fully as during the last round gym access was severely limited, while pool users had to wear masks while in the water.
“We are planning to open both facilities (RSC and pool) full on June 10. This is the way it’s supposed to be, if we’re going to open, then let us provide the services that we have. Don’t say, 'go ahead and open' but then don’t allow people to do anything — that’s not helpful,” said Murphy.
“Everyone is gearing up to get back at it. We’re excited and I can’t wait to see the lights on and the buildings full.”
Although the pool wasn’t drained and there was other work rec staff were tasked with following the May 9 closure, 20 town workers had to be temporarily laid off. Murphy said they’ve already sent a notice to laid-off staff welcoming them back.
“I really hope this is the last time … I think I’ve said that before, three times is enough. We really hope this is it,” added town CAO Simone Wiley. “It’s taken a toll on all of the staff — not only on the ones who have been laid off, but especially on them as well.”
Starting June 10, the RSC will be open from 6 a. m. to 9 p.m. weekdays and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends. The pool’s hours are 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and from noon to 5 p.m. Sundays.