09 July 2020 18:34
Gyms, swimming pools and leisure centres will open later this month in England with social distancing measures after growing unhappiness from the health and fitness sector that pub and restaurant reopening had been prioritised. Outdoor pools can reopen from 11 July and indoor gyms, swimming pools and sports facilities may reopen from 25 July with new guidance on spacing out and cleaning equipment, limiting the number of people in facilities and smaller class sizes. The culture, media and sport secretary, Oliver Dowden, said: "The reopening of gyms is the news millions across the country have been waiting for with many people desperate to jump on a spinning bike or dive into a pool. "Helping people return to gyms safely will also help the nation get match-fit to defeat this virus." After significant lobbying from the arts sector, the government has also agreed to allow outdoor performances with social distancing to resume from 11 July. Small pilots of performances indoors with socially distanced audiences will also take place and carefully monitored by the government and arts sector to ensure it is safe.
The fitness sector had expressed disappointment after it was left out of the loosening of restrictions which came into effect last weekend, which allowed pubs, restaurants and bars to reopen if they adhered to public health guidelines. The new guidance for gyms, pools and leisure centres includes limiting the number of people using the facility at any one time, which may require a booking system. Among the other measures suggested are reduced class sizes; improving cleaning and providing hand sanitiser throughout venues; ensuring adequate ventilation; and temporary floor markings for exercise or dance studios. Supporters will also be allowed to attend community fixtures in small numbers provided they are in groups of two households only, or no larger than six people from different households, and adhere to social distancing measures. "Sports governing bodies are now putting stringent measures in place so that the millions of people that play, officiate and volunteer can keep safe while enjoying all the benefits that grassroots sport brings." The Government has outlined the measures that will allow outdoor pools to reopen from 11 July and indoor gyms, swimming pools and sports facilities to reopen from 25 July, ensuring millions of people can get back into more sport and fitness activities.
The fitness industry's pleas have finally been answered - the Government has just confirmed that indoor gyms and swimming pools will reopen on July 25. Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden announced tonight that gyms will be able to reopen but with strict new hygiene and social distancing measures in place. Speaking at a press conference tonight, he said: "The reopening of gyms is the news millions across the country have been waiting for with many people desperate to jump on a spinning bike or dive into a pool. "Our comprehensive guidance will ensure gyms, pools and leisure centres have the support they need to reopen safely for their customers and staff. Gyms, leisure centres and pools have been closed since the coronavirus lockdown was imposed on March 21, and the government's decision not to reopen them along with pubs, restaurants and hairdressers on July 4 had been fiercely criticised by the industry.
For outdoor sports like cricket, supporters will also be allowed to attend in small numbers provided they are in groups of two households only, or no larger than six people from different households, and adhere to social distancing measures. Leisure centres and indoor gyms, along with swimming pools and other indoor sports facilities, have been closed since Saturday 21 March as part of measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Outdoor gyms were permitted to reopen from 4 July while following social distancing. Gyms, indoor pools and leisure centres to reopen 25 July, ministers announce Outdoor performances and grassroots sports to restart on Saturday Gyms, leisures centres and indoor pools will reopen on 25 July, while grassroots sports and outdoor lidos will resume from this weekend, the Culture Secretary has announced. Theatres will be able to start outdoor performances from Saturday in front of socially distanced audiences, Oliver Dowden said on Thursday. Indoor gyms, which were among the first venues to be closed during lockdown back in March, will open their doors once again later this month under strict new guidelines, such as introducing timed bookings for workouts and restrictions on showering. The move coincides with the wider reopening of leisure centres and swimming pools, while indoor sports, such as badminton or spinning classes, will also be able to start again. Mr Dowden said the move to reopen gyms would help get the country "match-fit to defeat the virus" amid growing fears of inactivity among the population due to social distancing restrictions. "The reopening of gyms is the news millions across the country have been waiting for with many people desperate to jump on a spinning bike or dive into a pool," he said. "Our comprehensive guidance will ensure gyms, pools and leisure centres have the support they need to reopen safely for their customers and staff." Supporters will also be able to attend matches, as long as strict social distancing rules are adhered to, while all sporting governing bodies must spell out how they intend to return to playing in a "Covid-secure" manner. Mr Dowden said: "From 11 July we can all enjoy performances outdoors with social distancing and we are working hard to get indoor audiences back as soon as we safely can, following pilots."