Glasgow Life outlines phased approach to reopening venues with support for childcare and education a priority

Glasgow Life outlines phased approach to reopening venues with support for childcare and education a priority

Glasgow Life has today (Friday 3 July) outlined the phased approach it will take to reopening some of the city’s public buildings in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

The charity revealed it has prioritised 61 venues and facilities which it intends to reopen across four phases between July and October.

However, its Chair, Councillor David McDonald, who is also the Depute Leader of the city council, said the “considerable impact” of Covid-19 on Glasgow Life’s finances and workforce meant it was facing a very different future.

As one of Scotland’s largest charities, Glasgow Life is at the heart of Glasgow’s communities; delivering some of the city’s most used and most valued services. In 2019/20, more than 18m attendances were recorded across its venues and events.

It has already delivered the first phase of its recovery plan with the reopening of 11 golf, tennis and lawn bowls facilities across the city last month.

The charity’s second phase prioritises the reopening of community facilities to support essential childcare, in line with the Scottish Government’s decision that childcare provision will return from 15 July. Given this date, Glasgow Life is working with childcare operators to help them reinstate their services as safely and as quickly as possible this month.

Phase three will run concurrently with phase two throughout July and will see more of Glasgow Life’s office-based and frontline staff returning to work to prepare venues and services for reopening to the public. Some key tenants will also be given access in this phase.

Meanwhile, phase four, from August to October, will see continued support for childcare and education provision, greater access for tenants, and the reopening of venues to the public more widely, including some of the city’s museums, libraries, arts and sports facilities, in line with ongoing public health and government guidance.

Councillor McDonald said: “After 14 weeks of lockdown, local communities and businesses are understandably eager to reengage with Glasgow Life and we know that demand for the reopening of our venues is extremely high.

“We recognise the challenges will be immense for people in the city 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.

“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 visitors in the weeks and months ahead.”

Due to Covid-19, Glasgow Life has furloughed nearly 1,000 employees while many more are shielding or have underlying health or childcare issues, which has significantly reduced the capacity of its workforce. While the government’s Job Retention Scheme will provide some financial relief, Glasgow Life says it won’t compensate totally for its anticipated full-year losses, which could run into tens of millions of pounds.

Councillor McDonald added: “Like every organisation, Glasgow Life has been hit hard by Covid-19. The complete shutdown of Glasgow’s museums, libraries and sports venues for more than three months, together with the cancellation of most of the city’s events and festivals this year means the millions of pounds of income which supports our services has been wiped out.”

This week, the Scottish Government confirmed that culture, sport, leisure and hospitality services can reopen from 15 July subject to meeting social distancing restrictions.

However, research conducted by the Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions (ASVA), of which Glasgow Life is a member, has found that less than a third of Scottish attractions are planning to reopen on 15 July, and that nearly half of the nation’s museums, galleries, castles and other historic sites may remain closed until 2021.

The survey also found that nearly two thirds of attractions won’t be able to achieve 40% of their normal visitor capacity if two-metre social distancing measures remain in place, while 89% of operators said they were faced with having to take damaging cost-cutting measures this year.

Councillor McDonald said: “Our financial and staffing constraints are unlike anything we’ve ever faced and mean we’re not able to operate all of our venues and services just now; it’s simply not possible.

“Planning around government guidance which is changing regularly, the welfare of our staff, and the viability of adapting our venues to meet social distancing takes time and we have a responsibility to get it right from the outset.

“We’re having to consider this on a venue by venue basis. At the same time, we’re creating an entirely new set of operating practices.

“This includes undertaking risk assessments, testing key building systems, installing screens and public sanitiser stations, delivering revised hygiene and safety training to our staff, implementing new booking systems and engaging with our trade unions. It’s not a case of just reopening our doors and returning to the way things were.

“Social distancing also means that a large proportion of our venues are unable to reopen safely, and we’ll need more staff than before to be working at the venues we do reopen to ensure current restrictions are followed.”

Dr Bridget McConnell, Chief Executive of Glasgow Life, said: “We care passionately about what we do and we’re proud of the difference we make to the lives of Glasgow’s citizens and visitors.

“Without doubt, the effects of this crisis will be felt for some time to come. We need to make the correct decisions now, such as prioritising childcare and education, to help maintain vital services in local communities and support the city’s economic recovery in the longer-term.


“It’s hugely reassuring that Glasgow City Council has agreed to support us financially during this difficult period and we’ll continue to work together to review and prioritise which venues and services we can restart or reopen and when. However, there are no easy solutions and it’s highly unlikely that Glasgow Life will be able to return to anything like its normal service provision in the near future.

“As it has been from the outset, the safety of the public and our staff will remain at the heart of our decision-making.”