A SKATING rink has opened its doors for the first time since the pandemic hit following a huge revamp.

Rollacity Skating Rink, based at the Purdeys Industrial Estate, Rochford, had its grand reopening on Saturday.

The rink, along with other entertainment businesses, was forced to close in March due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, owner Clive Meech decided he would not reopen the business over the summer as the restrictions were eased.

Instead, he used the time to complete a £250,000 refurbishment of the premises.

This includes a new lighting system, carpets, kitchen and seating areas, toilets and lockers.

A host of new social distancing restrictions are in place; people will have to provide contact details for track and trace, order food and drinks via an app on their tables, with only a limited amount of people being allowed in at one time.

Mr Meech said: “I would suggest as a round number on an average Saturday, before Covid, we would have 500 people. I think now we will be doing around 100 people.

“It’s significantly down by a fifth but it’s about keeping people safe.”

The firm is encouraging people to book online so they have good ideas of numbers per day, with staff carrying out extra cleaning on all surfaces throughout the day.

The boss added: “We have been planning a refit for sometime now but have always struggled to make the time needed to produce the right results.

“We have invested a further quarter million into the business and you can clearly see the difference that it will make to peoples enjoyment of the venue.

“We have always been extremely proud of our sound and lighting system, but what we have now is even more special and unique.

“The rink floor is a vital part of the venue and it has been completely refurbished and refinished.

“This is along with a complete new rink barrier which is a huge improvement to customer safety and comfort.”

The rink was first given planning permission by Rochford District Council back in May 2011.

Mr Meech was inspired to install a rink inside the vacant building following a popular skating rink which was temporarily installed at the Cliffs Pavilion in the summer of 2010, and felt there would be an appetite for a permanent venue in south Essex.

It was created to bring back “the spirit of the eighties” to south Essex.

Mr Meech added: “We have also updated our operating systems in line with the current Covid 19 requirements.

“We are doing everything possible to keep our staff and customers safe.’’

To book a slot for the venue visit the website at www.rollacity.co.uk.