The treadmills are resounding to the thump of running feet once more at Shaftesbury Recreation Centre as the four-month lockdown comes to an end. 

But Centre director Gerard Rice is warning that reaching full capacity again will depend on leisure centre users playing their part.

BACK IN BUSINESS: Gerard Rice and Natasha Brennan say they are delighted to reopen the doors at Shaftesbury.
BACK IN BUSINESS: Gerard Rice and Natasha Brennan say they are delighted to reopen the doors at Shaftesbury.

"Some people are just not paying attention to the guidelines," he said. "Last week, two teams of 14 turned up to use the outdoor pitch even though it specifically states the maximum number of users at any one time is 14. We are delighted to back in action but we will only be able to return to normal if everyone steps up.

"My message to the young people in particular is that Covid may not harm your health but if you spread it to the elderly, it could wreak havoc so act responsibly, keep social distance, use sanitiser which is provided and follow the rules."

 WELCOME BACK: Shaftesbury Recreation Centre.[/caption]
WELCOME BACK: Shaftesbury Recreation Centre.[/caption]

Gerard said that up to 40 people had called into renew their membership once doors reopened on 10 July. "We have allowed outside exercises and training for limited numbers for the last five weeks but it's obvious that a lot of people are more than keen to get back into the gym and knock off those lockdown pounds."

Shaftesbury Recreation Centre is run by LORAG at arm's-length from Belfast City Council which owns the building and provides financial help towards the overall running costs of the facility.

"We very proud of the role we play at the very hub of the South Belfast community and look forward to being able to resume community celebrations in our big hall again. But for now, our message to everyone is let's keep everybody safe as we reopen - we really are all in this together."

 PLAY YOUR PART: Gerard Rice and Natasha Brennan say it's key to keep users safe from Covid as centre reopens.[/caption]
PLAY YOUR PART: Gerard Rice and Natasha Brennan say it's key to keep users safe from Covid as centre reopens.[/caption]

Natasha Brennan (featured in video above) of LORAG said the entire team at Shaftesbury Recreation Centre was "delighted" to be back open again. "It's great to see so many members, new and old, coming back," she said.