Ewan Jackson

An update from our CEO

Monday 17 August

As the lockdown continues to ease, we have been getting more and more enquiries about which of our services, venues and facilities will be reopening and when.

The First Minister’s most recent update on the route map through and out of the coronavirus included a range of indicative dates for the continued relaxation of lockdown, including the proposed resumption of indoor sports facilities from Monday 14 September. A review of this date is expected at the next lockdown briefing on Thursday 20 August. I welcome that the First Minister has given us dates to work to and acknowledge that these dates remain conditional on the virus staying suppressed.

The information we now have permits us to be bolder in setting targets for more services coming back to life later this year and I am pleased to share with you these target dates. Our intention is to take a cautious and financially sustainable approach to restarting services.

As we prepare for a new way of living and working after coronavirus, our fundamental concern must be to ensure that our facilities are safe for our staff and public. We continue to follow the Governments guidelines and draw on best practice principles and advice from key partners operating across our range of services.

Although we’ve put in place a wide range of new online programmes and adaptations to existing provision; after five months of lockdown, local communities and businesses are understandably eager to re-engage with our services and we know that demand for the reopening of our venues is extremely high. We also recognise the challenges will be immense for people across the region who are used to enjoying and, in many cases rely on our services, but we need to balance that expectation against the complex planning which is now required to reopen any of our buildings.

Like every charity, we have been hit hard by Covid-19. The complete shutdown of our museums, libraries and sports venues, together with the cancellation of events this year has had a considerable impact on our finances. We have furloughed nearly 500 employees while many more are supporting community planning partners in key front line jobs. This significantly reduces the capacity of our workforce. While the government’s Job Retention Scheme provides some financial relief, it doesn’t compensate fully for the substantial losses we are facing this year.

This means that some of what we did previously will not continue in the same way. It’s simply not possible. Ongoing social distancing restrictions means some of our 67 venues can’t re-open safely; and we will need more staff than before to be working at the venues we do reopen to ensure these restrictions are followed. With that being the case, not all of the venues we currently run will re-open and not all of the services we deliver will continue as quickly as we would all like. The venues and services that do open will, in all likelihood, operate at a reduced capacity until next year at least.

The links below show the timescale we are working to regarding reopening. I must again qualify that these timescales are conditional on several factors, some of which are out with our control.

All of us at Live Borders are looking forward to getting you back into our facilities and services. The reopening of the Jim Clark Motorsport Museum in Duns last month was an important milestone for Live Borders. It marked the first step towards life after Covid 19.  I truly hope that conditions prevail that allow us to take the next steps outlined.

For more information on reopening of selected venues for essential services click HERE, and public reopening of selected venues HERE.

Live Borders is a charity. Every penny you spend with us is reinvested into supporting active, creative and healthy communities in the Scottish Borders.