Epidemic of emptiness spreads to the Inverness Leisure centre

An epidemic of emptiness has fallen over Inverness. Pictured is the walkway and floor area leading to changing rooms and sports court at Inverness Leisure. It’s normally very busy around 7pm on a Tuesday, but last night was very different.

Coronavirus crisis grips city

by Colin Campbell                                                                                                              Wednesday, March 18

THE epidemic of emptiness which has hit Inverness – ranging from store shelves to pubs, clubs, restaurants, hotels and city streets at night – has spread to the Inverness Leisure centre. Anyone worried about contracting the coronavirus at the centre needn’t be – there’s no-one there.

Not exactly, but the numbers of people at the venue at peak times have drastically reduced.

Last night at 7pm there were only half a dozen people in the main gymnasium. On a normal Tuesday night then there would be 10 times as many.

None of the 15 treadmills was being used, and only one person was on the row of bikes. A handful of other people were scattered around using exercise machines.

It was quieter than a quiet Sunday morning rather than being like a busy Tuesday night.

Those staying away because they were concerned about being in a crowded, sweaty environment where “social distancing” would be impossible misjudged the mood of the moment. It was possible to spend an hour in the gym area without coming within three yards of anyone else.

With none of the normal Tuesday night queues for access tickets, the rest of the centre seemed similarly affected.

However, Inverness Leisure will remain open, although the full range of exercise classes where there is close-up activity was cancelled from last night.

No warnings have been issued by the government over attending leisure venues, presumably on the basis that it’s been calculated the ongoing health benefits outweigh the coronavirus risk.

And it’s possible that when people become aware of the fall in numbers at places like Inverness Leisure they’ll return – creating the kind of scenario that made them stay away in the first place.

As with so much else in these rapidly changing times, the situation can only be viewed on a day-to-day basis.

One regular user, who is ranked as one the top 30 orienteers in the UK, said he had no qualms about continuing to attend the gym. He said: “If I get this thing I get it. But I’m not going to stop coming here. I need to exercise. I’m taking obvious hygiene precautions, but I’m not worrying beyond that.”

Meanwhile, our Ross-shire correspondent writes: “As fears continue to grow about the  spread of the coronavirus and the vast majority of older folk follow the government’s guidance about remaining indoors and avoiding contact with groups of people, I was asked by an elderly neighbour to buy a thermometer for her. 

“People are being discouraged from visiting their already overloaded GPs and apparently she’d been advised about a ‘temperature check regime’ which, if she became unwell, would help her make a decision about whether or not she’d contracted the virus. I was happy to assist but then discovered there wasn’t a single thermometer to be found anywhere in Dingwall. Chemists and supermarket staff explained they’d sold out and were awaiting delivery of further supplies.

 “That’s what can realistically be described as genuine health-related panic buying. Earlier as the crisis developed it was toilet rolls and antiseptic hand wash which were the priorities. Now it seems people are becoming much more aware of what requires to be checked. The internet will doubtless be playing a significant role in that.

“As temperatures rise throughout the country for all sorts of frustrating health-related reasons thermometers have disappeared from the shelves. It’s another strange problem arising from an extraordinary situation.”      

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