In the event of a spike we would like you not to close gyms as a measure to stop any spread of Covid. Also for gyms to not be put in the same group as pubs in terms of risk or importance. Gyms are following strict guidelines and most members are following rules in a sober manner.
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The gyms are a huge benefit for users, not just physically but mentally too. There are studies that show physical exercise can be a great boost to the immune system and releases endorphins which can prevent stress and a chain of mental illnesses. In such a stressful time people need a viable way to exercise. Using home equipment just isn’t sufficient, unless every person in the UK has hundreds of pounds to pay out on equipment (much of which has increased in price since the pandemic).
Sports and physical activity facilities are crucial for adults and children to stay active. The Government’s phased approach is based on scientific and medical advice to protect public health.
Sports and physical activity are incredibly important for our physical and mental health, and are a vital weapon against coronavirus. That’s why we made sure that people could exercise at least once a day even during the height of lockdown - and why we opened up grassroots sport and leisure facilities as soon as it was safe to do so. Outdoor swimming pools have been able to open from 11 July, and from 25 July indoor gyms, leisure centres (including sports halls) and swimming pools in England were able to reopen. However, we have always made clear that we will adopt a phased approach to reopening based on scientific and medical advice, with the primary goal of protecting public health.
Sports and physical activity providers and facilities are at the heart of our communities, and play a crucial role in supporting adults and children to be active. On 22 October, the Government announced a £100m support fund for local authority leisure centres. In addition, Sport England’s Community Emergency Fund is providing £210 million directly to support community sport clubs and exercise centres through this pandemic. We are continuing to work at pace across government to ensure the sector has the support it needs to continue delivering their central role in helping people be active.
On 11 October, the Prime Minister announced further measures on social contact to manage local outbreaks. Organised outdoor sport, licensed outdoor physical activity and outdoor exercise classes are still exempt from the rule of 6, and can happen in any number. Indoor sport and exercise classes can also continue, in line with the social contact rules in your local area. These new restrictions are necessary as we continue to fight the virus, and we continue to work across the government to make sure the sector has the support it needs throughout this pandemic.
As part of these measures a three tier COVID system for England was announced which set out different rules for regions classified as being on ‘medium’, ‘high’, or ‘very high’ alert. The closure of gyms and leisure centres is not part of the baseline measures that will automatically apply for Very High Level restrictions. However, it remains one of the options open to local authorities to go beyond the baseline restrictions in place for areas under the Very High alert level. I welcome the news that gyms and leisure centres that were previously closed in Liverpool due to its very high alert level are now allowed to re-open from Friday 23 October.
For areas in this level we will work with local leaders to agree a fuller package of measures going beyond the baseline measures, specific to that area’s situation. These schemes will be co-designed between the local authority and central government.
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport