Britain’s biggest fitness operators are urging the Government to rethink a decision to close gyms under the country's second lockdown, arguing that they are an “essential” service.
The chief executives of fitness chains Pure Gym, The Gym Group and David Lloyd have written to the Prime Minister warning that the decision will damage the health and wellbeing of “millions” of people unless it is reversed.
However, outdoor exercise will be allowed in public places such as parks, while the Government is currently reviewing whether outdoor sports such as golf and tennis will be permitted.
According to industry data, just 2.88 coronavirus cases were found in every 100,000 gym visits for the week ending 11 October, the most recent week for which figures are available. This is in contrast to the overall UK case rate for the general population in the same week of 150.83 cases per 100,000.
Humphrey Cobbold, chief executive of Pure Gym, said the firm had spent millions of pounds ensuring its sites are Covid-safe, including reduced numbers of people in gyms, increased hygiene procedures, contactless entry and requiring staff and members wear mask while not exercising.
Mr Cobbold said: “We urge the national Government to seriously reconsider their decision to close gyms. If they fail to do so, they will have to face and live with the consequences of a less healthy population and associated poorer health outcomes including a weaker immune system.
“What's more the sector faces significant closures which, in the months and years ahead, will result in reducing the number of ‘essential service’ facilities where people can train. Council-owned leisure facilities in particular are already in deep financial distress. It’s time the Government considered the gym sector an ally in this war and not an enemy.”