We took the decision on March 15th to close the Source Park in light of the COVID-19 outbreak. This was to ensure the safety of our staff and customers and minimise any potential risk of us being part of the problem. This was a few days before the Government told us to close and made operating an indoor skatepark illegal under the Coronavirus Act 2020. Now we are in June it is still illegal to open an indoor park and the latest guidance is that it is likely to stay that way for a while.
When those regulations are lifted (along with opening gyms, football training, dance schools etc) there will be strict social distancing measures in place to ensure that people are kept apart and that all risks of virus transmission are minimised as much as possible. We are told that these measures are likely to be in place until an effective treatment or vaccine for Covid-19 is released. Nobody knows when this will happen but the Chief Medical Officer in the UK has speculated that it will be “12-18 months”.
The best case scenario for us is being able to open in the Autumn under social distancing but in order to keep everyone safe and comply with both the law and our insurance, we have had to conduct a risk assessment which states that we would have to do the following:
- Keep all staff and customers 2m apart
- Limit the Number of people in the building by having a extra marshal at reception counting people in and out and explaining the new rules
- Only have one person riding at a time to eliminate chance of riders getting close
- Limit Sessions to 10 riders in each park
- No switching between Main and Plaza due to the narrow corridor between the two and so that numbers can be controlled
- No trying on of clothes or shoes (or we have to quarantine the items for 72 hours)
- No lending/sharing of tools
- Additional Member of staff to clean all handrails and touch points hourly
There are also lots of other things that make opening difficult. The whole building was designed for people to socialise and be near one another so social distancing is really tough. It’s unfortunate that what makes an Indoor skatepark, and in particular, one in an old building under a beach, so cool are also the things that make operating one under social distancing pretty much impossible.
While we would love for social distancing to go away, we have to assume it is going to be around for 12 months and we simply cannot make the building break even financially under these conditions, or even get close. The Source Park only just breaks even at the best of times so needing more staff to serve less customers isn’t going to work. Also, it wouldn’t be as good to visit – one person riding at a time with only a handful of other riders isn’t much fun!
We have therefore decided that we will not re-open and get back to normal until social distancing is over.
It is truly gutting for all of us but this is not the end of the Source Park and we intend to hibernate the building and pay the significant rent, utility, insurance and maintenance bills until social distancing is over and we can open again – coming back stronger than ever.
What we’re doing now:
- We are going to open a small pop-up shop in the top of our building – in the former Pier office facing the beach. This will offer a limited range of products and be staffed by Ali and some other familiar faces. We plan to open in the next two weeks so will send a separate email to let you know the details – we will have a small selection of bikes and essential parts as well as a full skate range, lots of bargain clothing and our fleet of hire bikes that we will be selling off cheaply.
- The Battle of Hastings qualifier event has been cancelled but we are still hoping to have a live-streamed BOH contest in September; though it will be held behind closed doors and be a very different event to the one we all know. You may be wondering how we can operate a contest when we can’t open the park and that is because it comes under a different law where socially distanced ‘Elite Sport’ can operate events behind closed doors from June onwards. It is the same set of rules that allows Premiership football to re-start whilst amateur football clubs cannot. We’re going to make a final decision in July as to whether the event will go ahead and what that looks like.
- We have re-opened our ice cream Kiosk for the summer season – please swing by to grab a delicious ice cream.
- We are also looking at ways of using the courtyard this summer to bring some money in to pay the bills. We’ll keep you posted once we know more; we’re just waiting to hear when the ban on beer gardens will be lifted.
Thanks again for your support and we hope you enjoy the summer; and getting plenty of sessions in outside!