The NSW Government’s decision to delay opening indoor learn to swim centres until the first day of summer, is putting lives at risk and will force many out of the industry.
Carlile Swimming and the Australian Swim Schools Association (representing 350 swim schools) is calling for the Government to urgently reconsider the announcement that indoor learn to swim facilities cannot reopen in NSW until December first. We know the Government’s desire is the same as ours, to save lives. Keeping learn to swim centres closed is putting lives at risk and will force swim centres to close.
While we support the reopening of other industries, please consider the following:
- Lives lost: After a shorter lockdown last year, 25 children (between 0-4) died from drowning, a tragic increase of 108%. The increase for 5-to-14-year-old’s was 56%. Reopening indoor pools will save lives.
- No community transmission: Indoor Pools have opened previously with COVIDSafe Protocols in place without a single case of community transmission. Yet, gyms with multiple cases will reopen sooner. Would you rather be in a gym or in chlorinated water which is known to kill the virus?
- Schools and community sport: Face to Face learning at school is returning, community sport is returning, including indoor close contact sports which involve children under 12, how does that make sense while we keep indoor learn to swim centres closed?
- School term: Many learn to swim businesses operate only during school terms, after five months in lockdown they will reopen for a little over two weeks. Businesses have already gone under. More will fail, leaving children without lessons.
- Delta and children: This month the National Centre for Immunisation Research found that 98% of children impacted by the Delta Variant were asymptomatic or had mild cases and are less likely to pass the virus on, see here.
- Outdoor pools not enough: Children need shallow pools, warm air and warm water to learn to swim, which is why most outdoor pools now have indoor teaching facilities, outdoor pools cannot provide the right space for all ages nor cater to the overwhelming demand.
- Limiting the risk: The risk of loss of life in remaining shut is far greater than opening with the right measures in place:
- Carlile Swimming centres have world class air filtration systems
- The virus can’t survive in properly treated water
- Masks and social distancing can protect those out of the water
- Non vaccinated parents could be excluded (as people are from other freedoms)
- In water face shields can be used
- Carlile Swimming has already introduced a mandatory vaccination policy for all staff, although the industry would prefer that decision be made at a Government level.
- Waiting lists and teacher shortages: Swim School waiting lists are at record levels and with each week of lockdown, swim centres lose more teachers.
- Disaster payments withdrawn: If indoor learn to swim centres remain closed for a month after the Federal Government winds up the disaster payments, thousands of teachers will be left without financial support and will be lost to the industry.
- Victorian pools open: Victoria yesterday announced indoor pools will open at 80% vaccinated. Is the Victorian health advice different to that in NSW?
- 8 Million lessons and counting: Already more than 8 million vital learn to swim lessons have been missed due to the Pandemic.
- Competitive swimming: The majority of competitive swimmers in NSW train in indoor pools, many have already lost months of training. Competitive training can be completed with social distancing in place.
The issues above regarding the safety of children is the primary concern, however it should also be noted that ours is an industry that delivers $9Billion in economic and social benefits to the nation and employs 67,000 people. The industry is reeling, and the extension of the lockdown will have tragic consequences.
The indoor learn to swim reopening date is the first of summer, as the weather gets warmer, children who have missed vital swimming lessons will be at greater risk. Yet ours, an industry that saves lives, is currently scheduled to reopen on the same date as brothels. We know we can do better than that.
The industry is looking forward to working with the Government to have children back in the water as soon as possible.