Many hundreds of gyms and swimming pools will go out of business this winter if new post-lockdown restrictions being considered for England force them to remain closed, industry leaders have warned.
Huw Edwards, the chief executive of ukactive, said the government was thought to be considering keeping gyms and pools closed as part of a tradeoff for reopening other parts of the economy, such as pubs and restaurants, in December.
The prime minister is due to make a statement setting out a new system of tiers, potentially with a tougher top level. Pubs and restaurants have demanded a week’s warning of new rules that would kick in after the English lockdown ends on 2 December.
The UK’s 7,000 gyms, pools and leisure centres have sought to be reclassified as essential services vital to public health. The move is being debated by MPs on Monday after a petition attracted more than 600,000 signatures.
Gyms are currently shut in England and parts of Scotland, and are due to close in Northern Ireland on Friday. To further penalise the fitness industry would be a “political choice”, Edwards said as there was “no science” to support the idea that its venues were a source of infection.
Public Health England has also warned that any respite at Christmas would be paid for with tough restrictions afterwards. Shutdowns in January and February would be even more damaging for gyms, as it is their busiest period with Britons undertaking new year fitness regimes.…