Edinburgh swimming pools and leisure centres to reopen again following Nicola Sturgeon’s announcement as winter golf memberships surged by 400 percent

Leisure centres across Edinburgh will be able to reopen again after nearly four months of closure, following the First Minister’s latest announcement.

Tuesday, 20th April 2021, 1:51 pm
Updated Tuesday, 20th April 2021, 2:24 pm

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Nicola Sturgeon confirmed on Tuesday that gyms will reopen next Monday along with non-essential shops and hospitality as mainland Scotland moves from level four to three restrictions.

Edinburgh Leisure’s chief executive, June Peebles, has welcomed the announcement and says she is looking forward to having customers back and continuing to help local people enjoy active and healthy lives.

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The Royal Commonwealth Pool. Pic: Greg Macvean.

The charity is responsible for running more than 50 sports and leisure facilities across the Capital and their Active Communities Programme.

Their tennis courts and golf courses have been open since June last year and they have seen a 400 percent rise in winter golf memberships compared to 2019 figures.

From Monday, Edinburgh Leisure’s indoor venues can reopen for individual exercise. The charity hopes outdoor contact sport and indoor group exercise can restart on May 17, and indoor non-contact sport from early June.

The main changes for customers will be: all activities must be booked via the Edinburgh Leisure app or on their website; contactless payments; safety guidance displayed in venues; enhanced cleaning and additional sanitisation stations available; all activities timetabled with staggered session start times to cut congestion; customers must wear face coverings in communal areas but not for their activities.

Edinburgh Leisure’s chief executive, June Peebles. Pic: Edinburgh Leisure

During lockdown, despite being closed, Edinburgh Leisure has continued to invest in their venues and services.

This includes new ‘easy access’ facilities at Gracemount and Ainslie Park leisure centres so that customers can just swipe their fob or membership cards when they enter a venue.

Cafes at the Royal Commonwealth Pool and the Edinburgh International Climbing Arena will also reopen on April 26. They will have a limited menu and customers can choose whether to takeaway or sit in. Enhanced cleaning will be in place and customers will be asked to ‘check in’ and scan the QR code in venue to support NHS Scotland’s test and protect service, which can be downloaded as an app to people’s phones.


Relaxed swim sessions will be available for adults at Portobello Swim Centre and the Royal Commonwealth Pool.

The pool will be divided width-wise into four. Two of these areas will be for people wanting to swim widths, and customers won’t need to get out of the pool if they want a break so long as physical distancing is maintained. The other two areas will be for customers who just want to enjoy the water but not necessarily swim widths. Again, physical distancing measures will apply.

Family swims are also available.

There’s also some bookable one to one adult swim coaching at the Royal Commonwealth Pool. Suitable for beginners or those more experienced swimmers who want to improve their stroke, these sessions will help swimmers reach their goals quicker with expert coaching from an Edinburgh Leisure swim coach.

Edinburgh Leisure is keen to support swimmers with a disability to continue to swim. As all activities need to be booked in advance, a new Carer Access Card has been created which allows carers to book a place alongside the individual they are supporting. The access card allows a carer to book into an activity alongside an Edinburgh Leisure member at no additional cost to the carer.

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