SWIMMING pools in County Durham reopen next week, but a trip to the baths will feel a bit different due to coronavirus safety measures.

Six Durham County Council-run leisure centres will welcome swimmers back from Monday, August 10, for the first time since they closed in March due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sessions at the Louisa Centre, in Stanley; Freeman’s Quay, in Durham; and leisure centres in Chester-le-Street, Newton Aycliffe, Woodhouse Close in Bishop Auckland and Teesdale; must be booked in advance.

A number of changes have been made to allow for social distancing and to reflect public health advice.

Activity will be limited to lane swimming throughout the week, with some family fun sessions at weekends and aqua fit classes.

Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult.

To limit the risk of spreading coronavirus, usual shower, changing and locker facilities will not be available.

Instead, swimmers will be asked to wear their costumes under their clothes when arriving. They will then be allocated a chair at the side of the pool where they can leave their clothes and any other belongings. Changing facilities will be available when exiting the pool.

Councillor Carl Marshall, Cabinet member for economic regeneration, said: “We’ve had a fantastic response since our leisure centres opened last month for fitness classes and gym sessions so we’re pleased to now be able to reopen our pools as well.

“Going for a swim is going to be a little different for the time being, but the changes we have made are extremely important in order to protect customers and staff and help prevent the spread of coronavirus. Without them we would not be able to reopen our pools.

“That said, I’m sure many people will be so pleased to get back in the pool that they will get used to the changes.

“It’s vital that we work to reinstate services wherever possible in order to support the county’s recovery from the pandemic.”

Consett Pool remains closed for maintenance work and Spennymoor will not reopen yet as it is not suitable for lane swimming.

The council is in discussions with the contractor that operates Peterlee Leisure Centre with regard to an opening date.

To book a session at a participating leisure centre, log into the Thrive app and for details visit durham.gov.uk/leisure