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Puffin Pool in Dingwall getting ready to reopen in November having been forced to close during Covid-19 coronavirus lockdown

By Philip Murray

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The Puffin Pool. Picture: Gary Anthony. Image No.043039.
The Puffin Pool. Picture: Gary Anthony. Image No.043039.

A VITAL health facility is set to reopen its doors early next month – but will have smaller capacities and higher fees to ensure it is Covid safe.

The Puffin Pool in Dingwall has been closed since the start of lockdown.

But staff and board members have long been eager to make it Covid-compliant, to ensure it can safely continue its role as a hydrotherapy and pain relief facility.

Delighted charity chiefs have now confirmed it will be reopening from November 2 – albeit with restrictions.

Dr Helen Charley, the chairwoman of the pool board said: “I’m acutely aware how many people missed the pain relieving and beneficial effects of the pool and I am delighted that we are able to reopen, albeit with some restrictions which are clearly marked on our website (and social media) and an increase in fees.”

To enable the pool to reopen safely, the site has been forced to cut the number of weekly sessions from 68 to 48 to allow time for extra cleaning.

The maximum number of people in each session will also have to be capped at five (excluding carers) rather than 20.

And this need to cut pool user numbers has forced session fees to double from £4 to £8.

Dr Charley said the increase was an unavoidable side-effect of having to slash pool user numbers while still having the same financial outgoings as before the pandemic – such as heating bills.

The pool will open its doors on November 2, initially only for patients from the Highland Rheumatology Unit (HRU), before opening from November 9 to all private groups.

The week beginning November 16 will then see the timetable open for previous users.

Each user will be phoned by staff prior to opening to go through a health questionnaire and arrange appropriate session use.

People will not necessarily be able to attend on the day or time they did previously, but pool staff said they hoped that all previous users who wanted to return will be able to be catered for. Anyone new wanting to use the pool will be put on a waiting list.

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