Ewan Jackson

An update from our CEO

9 March 2021

Dear all,

It has been a whole year since COVID-19 first forced the closure of the services and venues operated by Live Borders. The pandemic has affected every part of our lives and is expected to have consequences for a time to come.

Throughout the past year, our team have played an active role in supporting the fight against the pandemic. Colleagues have contributed, and continue to contribute, their skills and energy to supporting NHS Borders, the NHS Scotland Test and Protect effort, SB Cares and Scottish Borders Council, including school hubs. More recently, we have seen further colleagues providing operational support to our local COVID Vaccination Centres and working to support the Council by-election. Many will go on to assist with the running of the Scottish Parliamentary elections in May 2021.

All of the workforce have played their part in supporting the company, their colleagues, our customers and our communities to recover from the pandemic.

While most Live Borders services and all of the venues not supporting the COVID Response effort remain closed, we have been planning for their reopening and wish to inform members and public of our provisional plans as early as possible.

The government last week introduced an updated strategic framework and an initial timescale for the easing of restrictions. A more detailed version of the framework we understand will be published mid-March. Currently, the indicative dates published by government show that the majority of Live Borders venues will need to stay closed until at least the end of April.

We continue to provide online opportunities for people to engage in physical or creative activity and the number of these opportunities will grow over the course of the lockdown. Our e-library is well worth exploring for a broad selection of books and magazines.

Some services can commence as soon as the stay at home restriction lifts, presently scheduled for early April. For example, at this time we will recommence the popular ‘Connect & Collect’ library service across the region and we will also reopen our outdoor facilities where the guidelines permit us to do so.

The experience and learning we gathered from restarting services after the first lockdown will be used to accelerate this second restart. The safety measures and systems we put in place were well received and provided customers and staff with assurance that the venues were safe to visit and operate.

We will again focus on sports venue reopening first, it is important that we open sports venues quickly for two reasons, firstly the need to support getting our communities active and subsequently healthier again, secondly Live Borders uses the revenues generated from sports facilities to support and subsidise many of our other services financially. Once the sports venues are up and running we will turn our full focus to restarting other cultural, developmental and community based services and facilities.

It is clear that the next year is going to be challenging. The loss of earned income suffered during the Coronavirus closures will take time to recover from. Many of our staff have been on furlough for over a year and it will take time for them to readjust to working full time again. We have staff members currently deployed supporting our partners with COVID recovery activities.

The risk of catching COVID remains an issue even with the progress of the vaccination programme. This will affect when customers feel comfortable returning to activities, and social distancing requirements and other measures will still be in force as we reopen face-to-face facilities and activities. This will continue to impact capacity and opening hours we are able to operate.

The question put to me most frequently at present is; when is Live Borders planning to reopen venues and services? The Coronavirus situation is so fluid I simply cannot give a certain answer to this question. We will continue to respond as quickly as we can to government Coronavirus policy. This changes frequently throughout the pandemic and will no doubt continue to do so. With a view to helping give a broad overview we have published a projected timetable for services and venues coming back on line. The phases used are based on our best assumptions of what will be permitted to reopen, what is viable to reopen and when.

I hope that this information is useful but please note it is conditional on a series of fluid components and subject to change.

We would like to again thank all our members and the public for their support and understanding over the past year. Our vision for the charity will drive us to recover in a way that permits us to enable the region to become healthier, happier and stronger.  While recognising the challenges ahead, we are all fully committed to getting Live Borders back delivering the very best possible community services as quickly as practicably possible.

Best wishes,
Ewan Jackson
Live Borders


Live Borders Reopening Phases

Facilities/  Services to Open

Examples of Services permitted to return

Phase 1
Current Phase

All facilities closed.

Live Borders resources, both in respect of available furloughed staff and properties, are supporting Scottish Borders Council and NHS Borders in response efforts.

Live Borders staff supporting Test and Protect and making available properties for the testing and vaccination programmes.

Current provision:

  • eLibrary Services
  • Online fitness classes
  • Fitness Challenge
  • Creative Writing
  • Online Book club
  • Connecting Scotland

Phase 2
15 March 2021 (Provisional)

  • Non-Contact outdoor sports for 12-17 year olds, subject to sports specific guidance.

  • Outdoor Sports & Pitches
  • Galashiels Tennis Centre
  • Tweedbank Athletics Track

Phase 3
5 April (Provisional)

  • Stay at Home guidance removed by Scottish Government
  • Connect & Collect Library Services

Phase 4
26 April (Provisional)

  • Return to geographically variable restriction levels.
  • Limited easing within Level 4
  • Return to variable Levels approach based on revised matrix.
  • The gradual opening up of economic and social activity at a pace that is safe given epidemiological conditions.
  • Gyms & Fitness facilities
  • Swimming Pools

Phase 5

  • Inter-regional travel permitted as per Scottish Government restriction Levels.
  • Museums & Galleries
  • Library Service (Extended)

Live Borders facilities currently closed to public while supporting Vaccination and Testing programmes:

  • Eyemouth Community Centre
  • Gytes Leisure Centre
  • Hawick Town Hall
  • Langlee Community Centre
  • Newtown Community Wing
  • Queens Leisure Centre
  • Selkirk Victoria Halls

We will update on developments on these facilities.

Note: All phases and dates are subject to change and updated Scottish Government restriction requirements. Facilities or services in each phase will not all open on same day but in a phased and safe approach.