GYMS and pools are finally set to reopen their doors in England from July 25 after four months shut because of coronavirus.
Oliver Dowden today confirmed they could reopen their doors this month in a huge boost for fitness fanatics desperate to lose some of those lockdown pounds.
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Gyms are one of the last places to reopen with pubs, restaurants and non-essential shops already returning.
Most of Britain has now unlocked and adapted to the new normal, with screens and masks now common across different sectors.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said this evening: "Normal life is slowly returning.
"The reopening of gyms is the news millions across the country have been waiting for with many people desperate to jump on a spinning bike or dive into a pool.
“Our comprehensive guidance will ensure gyms, pools and leisure centres have the support they need to reopen safely for their customers and staff.
“Helping people return to gyms safely will also help the nation get match-fit to defeat this virus.”
It comes as:
- Outdoor pools can open from Saturday once again
- Brits can finally get their nails & other beauty treatments done as salons to return from Monday- but facials and other close treatments are still banned
- Theatres & music venues will be allowed to open again outdoors with trials of some indoor places – paving the way for the return of the Christmas panto later this year
- Grassroots sports can also start again from the weekend – even with spectators there -but they will have to have a coronavirus action plan in place
Casinos, nightclubs, bowling alleys, soft play, exhibition and conference centres will remain closed for now.
Vernon Jackson, Chair of the Local Government Association’s Culture, Tourism and Sport Board, said: "It is great news that gyms and leisure centres can reopen, and many people will be hugely excited about being able to safely visit them again.
"Being active is crucial to the fight against obesity, inactivity and poor mental health, and we know that the lockdown has increased physical inactivity and unhealthy eating habits for some families."
In the Government’s Our Plan to Rebuild document, gyms and fitness studios were originally part of step three of the lockdown exit plan, meaning they were on track to reopen at the start of July.
However, the PM later insisted indoor gyms are categorised as “close proximity” businesses and would remain shut because they posed an extra risk.
A Whitehall source explained: "Gyms have posed a particular challenge because of the nature of their business.
"They basically involve having a large number of people indoors, sharing equipment and getting out of breath.
"When you are dealing with a respiratory virus that is obviously a challenge."
The reopening of gyms and pools comes with a whole list of new rules for people to abide by, including:
- Limiting the number of people using the facility at any one time, for example by using a timed booking system;
- Reducing class sizes and allowing sufficient time between each class to avoid groups waiting outside during changeover;
- Ensuring an appropriate number of people are in a swimming pool at any one time;
- Spacing out equipment or taking some out of service to maintain social distancing;
- Enhanced cleaning and providing hand sanitizer throughout venues;
- Considering how the way people walk through their venue could be adjusted to reduce contact, with queue management or one-way systems;
- Ensuring adequate ventilation;
- Encouraging the use of outdoor spaces for individual, team or group activities, making sure to comply with the latest restrictions on public gatherings;
- Exercise or dance studios should have temporary floor markings where possible to help people stay distanced during classes;
- Customers and staff should be encouraged to shower and change at home wherever possible, although changing rooms will be available.
On gym floors, people will only be permitted to use equipment that’s spaced two metres apart and a gym’s maximum capacity will be set based on how big the venue is.
Changing rooms will remain in use, but sweat towels will be banned.
The Gym Group has offered a glimpse into how the gym floor will look once it opens.
Customers will be asked to spend no more than 45 minutes working out and will have screens around treadmills with some equipment being turned off completely.
Parents may not be able to use changing rooms to get their kids dressed for lessons, meaning kids may have to arrive already in swimwear.
Pools will now have to comply with a strict cleaning regime and make sure people using the facilities comply with social distancing measures.
Any equipment used in pools will need to be cleaned in between use, while capacity will need to be limited to allow each swimmer six square metres of space.
During swimming lessons, teachers will need to stay outside the pool, and only one parent will be allowed to take a child to a lesson.
As with other places such as supermarkets, strict social distancing measures will also have to be adopted at pools.
The guidelines also state that wide and slower strokes like butterfly should be avoided when lanes are busy, according to the recommendations.
From July 4, outdoor gyms were allowed to reopen but government scientist were still nervous about indoor gyms as its seen as a high risk for spreading the virus.
Gym operators have been been furious because they argued that reopening pubs and restaurants before gyms sent a poor public health message.
Scotland will not open gyms until at least July 31.
Gyms in the Czech Republic were back in use in May, while they are set to open next month in Denmark.
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