The boss of the charity which operates sports facilities across Aberdeen has warned the future of the leisure industry “looks bleak.”
Gyms and other sports complexes are still unable to open due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Alistair Robertson, managing director of Sport Aberdeen, has warned the sector is being hit by a “devastating situation” and is calling for help from the Scottish Government.
He has been speaking as a report published by trade body Community Leisure UK warned up to 4,500 jobs are at risk without support from the government.
Mr Robertson, who is vice chairman of the group, said the sector has a part to play in the recovery from the coronavirus crisis.
He said: “Despite financial support being offered by the Scottish Government to a number of industries, such as arts and culture, leisure trusts continue to fall through the gaps. The combination of a lack of government support and continued delays in reopening means that the future for leisure looks increasingly bleak.
“The part that community leisure has to play in the country’s recovery from the COVID-19 crisis is significant; we are ready and able to support our communities in improving their health and wellbeing, helping to reduce escalating costs to the NHS and other services.
“However, without crucial financial intervention from the Scottish Government, there is a significant risk that these community leisure facilities may never reopen.”
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A Scottish Government spokesman said: “As the First Minister has made clear we understand how difficult this situation is for those sectors and activities who are facing a further wait before they can resume and are acutely aware of the potential impact that will have on people’s livelihoods.
“We would like to see facilities like gyms reopen as soon as possible. As it stands the indicative date for the reopening of indoor sport and leisure facilities including gyms, swimming pools, sports courts, dance classes and skating is Monday 14 September with physical distancing and enhanced hygiene measures in place. We will continue to review the situation to see if earlier reopening is possible, with the intention to provide a further update on August 20.
“We greatly appreciate the work by the sector to ensure the virus transmission rate can be kept as low as possible, and the continued patience of those working within it.
“We are in discussions with COSLA on how we can best deploy further consequentials for local government and also to implement a lost income scheme to provide additional financial support for some of the lost income from sales, fees and charges similar to that which has been announced for councils in England. Details of the scheme are still being worked up and critically we are still awaiting further information from the UK Government on what funding we are allocated for the lost income scheme.”