Fitness bosses furious as gyms stay shut while other businesses start opening up

Fitness bosses have criticised the decision to leave gyms out of the next stage of England’s lockdown easing.

The chief executive of David Lloyd Clubs blasted the move as “completely illogical” after Boris Johnson said more businesses could reopen on 4 July – but not indoor gyms and swimming pools.

“So what we hear is that pubs and restaurants will be able to reopen, but health and fitness facilities won’t be able to,” CEO Glenn Earlam said. ”To us, this is bizarre because we are part of the solution.”

He added: “The chief medical officer has regularly said that health and fitness is one of the best things you can do to protect yourself from Covid-19.”

PureGym, one of the UK’s largest operators with more than one million members, said in a statement: “We understand that these decisions are not easy, but it is a strange ‘war on obesity’ that sees pubs and restaurants open before gyms.

“Our facilities are, on average, the size of five or six doubles tennis courts and are exceptionally well ventilated, enabling people to work and exercise safely and securely.”

The prime minister said on Tuesday pubs, restaurants, cinemas and hotels can reopen on 4 July in England after months of closure due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Museums and places of worship will also follow the same timeline, and the two-metre social distancing rule will be reduced to one metre.

However, some have questioned the logic behind leaving indoor fitness centres out of this loosening of restrictions.

Constance Wong, a fitness instructor in London, told The Independent: “I don’t think it makes sense when people are allowed to gather in pubs to drink alcohol, but not exercise.”

She added: “Coronavirus should highlight the importance of staying healthy.”

Mark Sesnan, managing director of GLL, which operates 270 leisure and sports facilities on behalf of local authorities in the UK, said he was “flabbergasted” by the announcement.

“We know that people who have gone into Covid with good health have better outcomes than people who have not so we are a bit shocked and amazed that the government think it’s more important to have pubs open rather than facilities for people to take healthy activities in,” he said.

Oliver Dowden, the culture secretary, has said the goal is to reopen gyms and leisure facilities in mid-July.

“Many people keen to hit the gym & keeping Britain fit is key in Covid battle,” he tweeted after Tuesday’s announcement.

While pubs and restaurants may start reopening in early July, the government has said “close proximity” venues – such as indoor gyms, soft play areas, bowling alleys and nightclubs – will have to wait a bit longer.

A Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport spokesperson said: ”We are continuing to work with representatives from the gym and leisure centre sectors on plans for a safe, phased reopening with the ambition for this to happen from mid-July, subject to public health guidance.

They added: “We need to make sure that plans are comprehensive with all risks minimised.”

Additional reporting by Press Association

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