Gyms could open in a couple of weeks, PM hints

You might be able to get a workout at your gym soon, as the prime minister hinted at a return for fitness centres.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke on an LBC radio show on Friday 3rd July about when we can expect to see gyms return.

Boris Johnson said on LBC radio: “The best way forward for the country is to get the economy going again. We are going to reopen gyms as soon as we can do it in a COVID-secure way, and I think that the date for reopening gyms at the moment, is in just a couple of weeks’ time.”

Business Secretary Alok Sharma said last month that opening gyms could be possible “at some point later on in July” and Oliver Dowden, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, wrote on Twitter that – all going well – facilities could open from ‘mid-July’.

He tweeted: ‘Many people keen to hit the gym & keeping Britain fit is key in Covid battle. ‘We’ve made lots of progress & I know steps businesses have taken to make their spaces & equipment safe.’ ‘Subject to public health, our aspiration is to reopen gyms & leisure facilities in mid-July.’

This update comes after ukactive hosted a delegation of Government, Sport England and public health officials on the 1st July, led by Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, on visits to a number of its members’ sites.

This was an opportunity for the Government to see first-hand how the sector is setting up its facilities safely, in accordance with Government regulations on social distancing, and aligned to the ukactive framework. Following this constructive visit, ukactive will be working with the Government and health officials to finalise the process for the reopening of the sector.

Johnson and his government have come under fierce criticism from the fitness industry, thanks to the decision to keep gyms, leisure centres and other health and fitness facilities closed, while allowing pubs and restaurants to open on 4 July.

Last month, Tanni Grey-Thompson, chair of ukactive, sent an open letter to Johnson, which called on him to justify his decision with science, allow the sector access to the chief medical officer and formally explain the reasons for not allowing reopening.

Huw Edwards, the chief executive of UK Active which represents thousands of gyms and leisure centres, said they are in ‘conversations with the Government to establish a clear roadmap to reopening’. He also emphasised they are keen to get the sector moving.

‘Many people will be understandably frustrated by the decision not to reopen the fitness and leisure sector from 4 July,’ he said. ‘Our sector’s safety standards are among the highest in Europe, where other nations have already reopened their gyms and leisure facilities safely.'

‘We have invited Government and health officials to visit any of the hundreds of gym and leisure centre show sites across the country, and witness how facilities would operate with thorough social distancing measures and hygiene standards in place.'

‘Any further delay to our reopening will threaten our nation’s recovery from Covid-19. With obesity the second largest cause of hospitalisation from this virus, gyms and leisure centres are equipped to not only combat Covid-19, but to support rehabilitation for those recovering from the virus.’

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