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Safety will be uppermost in High Life Highland 'bounce back' campaign

By Alan Hendry

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Chief executive Steve Walsh says HLH services will be brought back in a structured way.
Chief executive Steve Walsh says HLH services will be brought back in a structured way.

High Life Highland (HLH) has reiterated that safety will be the top priority as it seeks to "bounce back” from the global pandemic.

The charity – which provides culture, learning, sport, leisure, health and wellbeing services across the region – wrote to members to outline its plans in line with the latest developments in Scottish Government's route map out of lockdown.

New booking systems will be put in place at a number of venues, while safety measures will include the introduction of hand-sanitising stations.

Chief executive Steve Walsh said: “We care passionately about what we deliver to enhance the health and wellbeing our communities and are really looking forward to welcoming customers back to our facilities and services over the coming weeks and months, and I am delighted that our 'bounce back' campaign is already taking shape across all of our services.

“In physically reopening our facilities, HLH will place the safety of its customers, its staff and its communities uppermost at every step of the way. This means that our bounce back will be a gradual process, where we will bring back services carefully, in a structured way that allows our customers to enjoy our facilities feeling safe and well protected at all times.

“The next phase of our recovery will see more of our staff returning to prepare venues and services for reopening. We have an increasing number of staff returning to their workplaces, working hard and making bounce back plans for the safe return of their customers and colleagues.

“Our bounce back programme will see many of our sites reopening over the next few weeks to offer services that will take into account the guidance in the Scottish Government’s route map.

“We have been in touch with members advising them of the measures put in place to offer customers the reassurance needed that it is safe to return to our facilities."

Mr Walsh went on to list some of the measures that the charity is putting in place to ensure customers and members feel safe on their return.

“We will be introducing new booking systems at a number of our venues, where prior to the pandemic booking hadn’t been required," he explained. "These bookable venues will include libraries, archive centres, museums, art galleries and the Inverness Botanic Gardens.

“We will also be introducing hand-sanitising stations at key points throughout our facilities and encouraging increased hand hygiene from our users. This will be in addition to increasing our cleaning staff and enhancing our cleaning regimes, with programmed cleaning periods before and after activities – measures which in themselves may impact on the public opening hours of our sites.

“As a precaution, it is our intention to monitor staff temperatures. We will also be implementing flow-management procedures in our larger and busier sites, as well as queue management processes being put in place.

“In considering the number of customers admitted to any one location, it is extremely likely that numbers in classes and activities will be reduced in order to accommodate appropriate social distancing."

Mr Walsh added: “A vital part of our bounce back campaign will be to ensure the safety of customers when they visit our sites. We will be asking anyone that has any Covid-19 symptoms, or who may have come into contact with the virus, to stay away from our sites until they have completed the self-isolation and testing guidance in place at that time.”

HLH is also planning to create welcome videos and to hold open days for its busier sites. This will help members and customers navigate the changes, as well as highlight some of the helpful measures put in place to support social distancing and improved hygiene.

HLH says it will be liaising with the Scottish Government, SportScotland, Highland Council and other partners as well as continuing to work behind the scenes to ensure communities will have access to fitness and swimming facilities within a reasonable travelling distance when the current restrictions are relaxed or removed, and when it is safe to do so.

Mr Walsh added: "I hope that the introduction of our bounce back campaign will offer all our customers and service users assurance that we are doing everything we possibly can to get them back to ‘business as usual' and as soon as we can.”

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