THERE has been no shortage of demand as leisure facilities began the first stage of a phased reopening.

The district’s leisure centres in Hexham, Prudhoe, Ponteland and Haltwhistle opened their doors on Saturday morning, in line with others across the UK.

People were pictured queuing outside Hexham’s Wentworth Leisure Centre ahead of the big reopening, at 8am on Saturday.

Active Northumberland runs the centres in Hexham, Prudhoe and Ponteland, as well as Ashington, Blyth, and elsewhere in the county.

People can use gym facilities, attend fitness classes, play badminton, and partake in clip ‘n’ climb sessions.

While the swimming pool is open for lane swimming at Hexham, the pool at Prudhoe Waterworld will not open until August, due to maintenance.

Mark Warnes, acting chief executive of Active Northumberland said much work had gone on behind the scenes to meet Covid-19 restrictions.

He added: “We want our customers and employees to feel safe when they’re at our centres and we’ve worked incredibly hard to ensure that this is the case.

“There are new safety and social distancing guidelines in place, while cleaning schedules have been ramped up considerably.

“We’ve been really encouraged by the response of our members, the vast majority of whom are keen to get back to the centres and start exercising again. We look forward to welcoming them back over the coming weeks.”

User numbers are restricted, and for now, only members of the centre are permitted entry to the gym. However, non-members are allowed to participate in clip ‘n’ climb, and sports hall activities.

Mark added: “We appreciate that it might be frustrating for some non-members who are not yet able to come into the centres, but we hope they understand the reasons why we have had to introduce this phased reopening.”

Non-members are invited to take part in daily live exercise sessions on Facebook, which have proved popular.

More facilities are set to open on Saturday at Wentworth, including ten pin bowling, which can be booked online.

Coun. Cath Homer, Northumberland County Council cabinet member for arts, culture, leisure and tourism said: “Sport and leisure centres have a key role to play in the recovery from the pandemic as exercise plays such a huge part in improving people’s physical and mental health.

“Not all sports centres across the North-East have reopened yet, so the fact that nine major sports centres in Northumberland have reopened, albeit on a phased basis, with a limited capacity, is a big step in the right direction.”

Elsewhere, the independently-run Haltwhistle Swimming & Leisure Centre announced last week that it would not be opening its outdoor swimming pools for the remainder of the summer, due to the implementation of safety measures, and the financial impact of not having a full season

However, the fitness suite, sports hall, studio and astroturf sports facilities all reopened on Monday, with restrictions in place to meet government regulations.

More information about fitness classes and other activities at Haltwhistle can be found at