The JAGS Sports Club is one of the most popular independent sports centres in Dulwich in South London. It offers a vast range of facilities and classes to members and the wider community. Before the pandemic, the sports centre was very busy and had many mixed-age activities.

However, the COVID-19 outbreak has a knockdown effect on the JAGS Sports Club. The sports centre had to be closed for three months when there was a nationwide lockdown in March and has lost more than 700 memberships during the pandemic.

“The number of members has decreased, in particular, during the lockdown because obviously people were scared to be in a public environment,” said Alex who is currently working in the sports centre.

Nevertheless, since the sports centre reopened after the lockdown lifted, the number of people coming in has been increasing gradually. Approximately 80 percent of the sports centre users have returned helping the sports centre to recover from its losses.

So, what are the new measures and operations at JAGS sports centre that reduce people’s fear?

The one-way system is one major change. Now, all sports have separate entrances and are put into bubbles to avoid extra contact with other members which is vital for minimising the transmission of coronavirus.

There’s also a limit to the number of people entering each bubble. For example, the number of people allowed in the gym is 10; the pool started off with 20 and this number has increased when the number of new cases in the UK dropped.

For safety, there are twenty new changing rooms on the sides of the swimming pool. This creates more space, reducing the spread of the coronavirus. In particular, normal changing rooms are only opened to over 70s and people with disabilities to protect the vulnerable group.

Staying hygienic is also crucial. There are boxes for people to place their clothes to avoid cross-contamination. After each class, the staff will use cloths and disinfectant sprays to clean everything that has been touched either by the person or their personal items to make sure the place is hygienic. The sports centre also asks people to hand sanitise when they enter and leave; there is always at least one hand sanitiser when people come out of whatever activities.

The tracking trace is another new strategy. Everyone needs to book in advance and register for sports so that if someone gets coronavirus, the staff would be able to tell who was in the same group with that person.

Fortunately, even though the adjustments are costly, they are very effective; there has been no coronavirus cases discovered since the sports centre reopened- this encourages more people to come in.

“People would have disabled their membership during the pandemic, but managers are still able to bring more members and customers in because everything is quite safe right now,” said Alex.