The fitness and leisure sector has warned the government of mass closures and layoffs and worsening health imbalances if it presses for group planning with pubs, bars and casinos in the new locking restrictions.
Liverpool’s six cities, with a population of 1.6 million, are expected to be confirmed as ‘high-risk’ areas for Covid 19 on Monday, according to a new three-tier classification of local regions.
Closing down certain areas of the hospitality industry – even if not restaurants – is expected to cause gyms to close again indefinitely.
That opportunity has provoked outrage within the sector, and there is a demand that the government prepare its resources for the move.
Since reopening in July under stringent new regulations, gyms, swimming pools and leisure centers are believed to have shown that they can function safely and play a key role in improving public health and immunity.
Baroness Danny Gray-Thompson, an 11-time Paralympic gold medalist and executive leader, wrote a letter to all 650 parliamentarians on Friday urging them to “recognize gyms and leisure facilities as a safe and essential service”.
Yugactive, which represents public and private sector gyms, has provided the government with evidence showing that just 0.34 cases per 100,000 visits in the first two months of its reopening from July to mid – September were “minimal” Covit-19 exposure. .
One-third of public sector retirement facilities have already been unable to reopen due to the financial impact of the lockout between March and July and the lack of any sectoral recovery package.
More than 6,000 jobs, mostly young people, have already been lost, and there are now fears that numerous gyms, swimming pools and leisure centers will be lost forever.
“The government will not be able to reopen gyms and leisure centers,” said Hu Edwards, chief executive of Yucativ. “Doing so threatens permanent business failure and significant job losses. Political leaders must make decisions based on data shared with the government over the past two months since the sector reopened.
“Closures could damage the health of the country and weaken the public health recovery from Covid 19. In this health crisis, our national and local leadership need these essential facilities more than ever.
“Discussions on increased local regulations agree that with the very low impact of Covid 19, our gyms and resorts are proving to be safe and that they are essential in our collective struggle to improve the health of the country.”
Pubs and restaurants across central Scotland were closed for two weeks on Friday, but gyms were not included in the restrictions.