LYMINGTON Sea Water Baths are opening tomorrow (Friday) with the management warning of “drastic and unwelcome” changes to the way they operate amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Hugo Ambrose, who runs the popular attraction in Bath Road, said the measures he had had to introduce were “depressing and not what we, or anyone wanted”.
He added: “It is a massive change, and something very far removed from anything we have done before.
“People don’t like it and neither do we. But our hands are tied. The government guidelines regarding social distancing and other things have meant that we really had to restrict numbers.”
Booking, timed slots, no changing rooms and no showers are among the new safety measures that have had to be introduced. Only 20 swimmers at a time will be allowed to use the pool for an hour during two sessions a day.
But it is the hefty charge of £90 an hour per group of six to use the inflatables that has angered some customers.
Posting on social media, one mother said she went there every year with her family for the whole afternoon but added: “Not this year sorry… No way am I paying £90 for an hour’s play!”
Mr Ambrose rebutted any claims that he was profiting out of the restrictions. He said: “We will be lucky to keep going. Normally we have 600 people a day using the inflatables now it is going to be 12 for an hour in two groups of six.
“We have looked at so many ways of keeping the price down while complying with the numbers we are allowed in and this is the only combination we could come up with.
“We still believe we are cheaper than many aqua parks in the area.”
All lane and family swimming sessions are for an hour at a cost of £3 for adults and £2 children under 14. There will be two sessions a day at 10am-11am and 5.30pm-6.30pm.
People will have to give their names and addresses when buying tickets online and the information will be passed onto the NHS if any cases of Covid-19 are reported.
There will no spectator tickets available and the changing rooms and showers will remain shut, although there will be gazebos for storage of possessions.
Mr Ambrose said: “I think we just need to get through this year and hope that next year will be different.”
A spokesperson for Lymington and Pennington Town Council, which licences the baths to Mr Ambrose, said it set the prices for swimming which and remain unchanged this year.
But the cost for the inflatables were set by Mr Ambrose, she said, adding: “To adhere to social distancing measures there will be only 12 people able to use the inflatables at one time. In a normal year there can be up to 600.”