A SWIMMING school has lost two years’ worth of profits due to the coronavirus restrictions despite there being no evidence the virus can be spread through recreational waters.

Emma Holden has been the co-director of business at Willow Babes Swim on Halifax Road, Hoylandswaine, since 2008 but admits this is one of the toughest times she has faced.

The 43-year-old added: “I think mentally this lockdown has been harder than the first because we’d just got back into the swing of it before we had to shut down again - we’re worrying that it’s going to be more than four weeks.

“Financially it has been a nightmare, we’ve applied for grants but we’ve not been able to get them because we’re not a rateable business.
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“We’ve probably lost about two years’ worth of profits and for the next 18 months we’re going to have to build that back up.”

Despite reopening in September after a six-month closure, Emma was unable to claw back any income as most lessons were already carried on from before the last lockdown.

“All staff are furloughed currently which is a big help with the costs,” she added.

“It is what it is, it’s a shame that there’s no help from the council so we’re now looking at getting a loan to pay for the rent of the pool and other costs.

“We reopened back in September and we managed to have a few new lessons in but a lot of them had already carried over from the first lockdown - we’re in the same position as the first lockdown but with less money.”

Emma admits that it is frustrating they’re unable to open the pool despite the area being Covid-safe and there being no evidence that the virus can spread through recreational waters, but is hopeful that they’ll be able to reopen even if it isn’t profitable for a period of time.

“We make sure that everyone wears face masks when they’re in the facility and there’s cones to separate the kids when they’re in the pools,” she said.

“The only risk of catching Covid is in the air but masks are being worn so it’s safe here - it’s really frustrating.

“I wouldn’t mind not being able to make profit for a few years if it meant that we were able to keep open.

“Swimming is so important and it would be such a crying shame if we did have to close.”

Swim England chief executive Jane Nickerson has urged the government to ensure that pools are able to reopen at the earliest opportunity - December 2 - to ensure the physical and mental wellbeing of swimmers can be helped.

She said: “We’re obviously saddened that all public and private pools have had to close again.

“We understand that measures are needed to slow the transmission of coronavirus but physical activity is a key tool in the fight against Covid.

“We can’t let our industry be pushed to the back of the queue as it was when the easing of measures in the first lockdown were introduced.”