19th Jan, 2021

Government urged to rethink over gym plans

THE GOVERNMENT has been urged to rethink its reopening regulations by the CEO of a leisure and fitness chain with a gym in Worcester

Steve Gray of Nuffield Health, which has a centre at Perdiswell Park, Droitwich Road, said while he welcomed the changes coming into force on July 4 he questioned why the fitness and leisure centre was not given the same opportunity to open its premises safely and responsibly.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced earlier in the week the two-metre social distancing restriction was to be reduced to the ‘one metre plus’ rule where everyone should still try and stay two metres apart but one metre minimum would be sufficient.

That gave the go ahead for the hospitality and holiday sector to reopen, including pubs, restaurants, hotels, bed and breakfasts and camping and caravan sites.

The notable absentees from the list were gyms, leisure centres and swimming pools.

Mr Gray adde:d: “We know that lockdown has significantly impacted the nation’s physical and mental health.

“Gyms and leisure centres have a critical to play in the health of the nation, both physically and mentally, so with  the NHS facing a ticking timebomb of recovering Covid-19 patients, let us help.

“Taking into account all available evidence and guidance, our fitness and wellbeing centres have worked with our hospital teams who have been at the frontline of the pandemic, and with our medical and clinical taskforce, to ensure our sites are able to operate safely for members and our workforce.”

He called on the Government to show the evidence used to enable to safe reopening of hospitality businesses and added he would like to work closely with the Government to demonstrate how the leisure centre and fitness industry could meet the same high standards.

“We are willing and able to offer up our sites and infection prevention specialists to test methods and trial new operating models, to enable the safe reopening of our sector.

“We are also piloting a programme with the NHS to support the rehabilitation of Covid-19 patients following their discharge, but again, to do this, we need access to our network of fitness and wellbeing centres to enable face-face consultations with patients.

“This Government is right to focus on public health as part of the nation’s recovery from COVID-19.

“But with a body of evidence pointing to the necessity of fitness centres for maintaining physical and mental health, swift and decisive action is needed to re-open the nation’s gyms to help our population kick-start their recovery from Covid-19.”


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