Gyms and leisure centres could be given the green light to reopen in England within days. Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden is expected to make an announcement at 5pm, where he is expected to discuss the sector's reopening, with mid-July still the target date. Gyms have remained closed through the coronavirus lockdown but a date for their reopening is expected as the number of Covid-19 cases continues to fall. Mr Dowden said gyms have "engaged very constructively" with the Government to "overcome some of the hurdles". He told the House of Commons: "I hope to be able to make an announcement imminently in relation to that.
"As I've said previously, the aim has always been to get gyms back by mid-July." Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg also said the aim is for the reopening of beauty salons to follow "as soon as possible". He said: "Our hope is to reopen gyms and leisure facilities in mid-July. "Other close-contact services, tattoo and nail parlours, will follow as soon as possible."
Chancellor Rishi Sunak hinted gyms could reopen following his mini-Budget announcement in the House of Commons after he suggested they could be open when his discount meal voucher comes into effect in August.
DUP MP Sammy Wilson said it was time gyms reopened, saying: "I think the clothes shops might welcome it as well, as once we've eaten our way through a month's half-priced meals, we might all be visiting them.' The Chancellor replied: "Perhaps alongside 'eat out to help out', we can make progress on reopening our gyms, so at the same time we can deal with that side of the equation." While it looks like good news for gyms and leisure centres, theaters and nightclubs are set to remain closed, the Daily Mail reports. As yet, it remains unclear if nail salons could be given the green-light to reopen.
Fitness chiefs were angered after pubs, bars and restaurants were given the green light to reopen on July 4 but their facilities had to remain closed during the last round of lockdown easing. 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.”
Chief executive of David Lloyd Clubs, Glenn Earlam, said the plans were a “completely illogical” move. He added: “So what we hear is that pubs and restaurants will be able to reopen, but health and fitness facilities won’t be able to. To us this is bizarre because we are part of the solution." The Government had said there was still work to do to ensure the risk of coronavirus transmission in indoor gym settings was reduced.