Gyms and pools to reopen and outdoor performances will return in England

Gyms, pools and sports facilities can reopen from July 25, while outdoor performance will be able to return from this weekend in England.

Speaking at the coronavirus briefing Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said outdoor pools can reopen from Saturday onwards, and will be followed by the reopening of indoor gyms, pools and leisure facilities from July 25.

The announcement will allow millions of people to return to the physical activity they have been craving since the lockdown began.

Outdoor arts performances – including theatres, opera, dance and music – will also be able to resume from this weekend, although audience numbers will be restricted and will be subject to social distancing rules.

Mr Dowden also announced the return of team sport, starting with cricket from this weekend and guidance on recreational sport will be published from Saturday.

The beauty industry will welcome the news that beauty salons, tattoo parlours, spas, and tanning salons can reopen from Monday.

Mr Dowden told the Downing Street press conference: “Having allowed hairdressers to reopen, beauticians, tattooists, spas, tanning salons and other close contact services can now do the same, I’m pleased to say, from Monday.

“Of course that will be subject to some restrictions on particularly high-risk services."

What is reopening and when?

  • Outdoor swimming pools from July 11

  • Indoor gyms swimming pools and sports facilities from July 25

  • Team sport can return from this weekend and guidance will be published from Saturday

  • Outdoor arts performances from Saturday

  • Beauticians, tattooists, spas, and tanning salons can reopen from July 13

Gyms and pools can reopen from July 25 but with safety measures in place, including limiting the number of people using a facility at one time, extra cleaning and smaller class sizes.

Mr Dowden said face coverings would not need to be worn in gyms, as a “whole series of mitigating measures” would be in place in gyms.

Other safety measures in place would include spacing out of equipment or taking some out of service to maintain social distancing and introducing one-way systems.

Temporary floor markings should be introduced in exercise and dance studios to help people stay distanced during classes and customers and staff should be encouraged to shower and change at home - although changing rooms will be open.

Indoor gyms can reopen in England from July 25. Credit: PA

When put to him that the restrictions involved in reopening gyms and swimming pools would make exercise “less fun”, said people would get used to the new measures.

Mr Dowden said: “The judgment we’ve taken with this (pubs) and swimming pools and elsewhere is it is better to reopen with those restrictions than not reopen at all.

“Of course it is going to take a while for people’s confidence to build, it is rarely the case that you pull up the shutter and everyone comes rushing in.

“But equally the experience in the UK and elsewhere is that over time people have gained confidence and have started to engage more.”

  • ITV News Political Correspondent Dan Hewitt has more on the announcement:

The Culture Secretary told the Downing Street press conference: “I’m really urging people to get out there and to play their part: buy the tickets for outdoor plays and musical recitals, get to your local gallery and support your local businesses.

“Our fight began with a collective effort and I really hope it will end with one.

“At the beginning we all stayed at home to protect the NHS and save lives now the British public has a new part to play.

“It’s time to eat out to help out, to enjoy the arts to help out and to work out to help out.

“It’s over to all of you to help the country recover safely.”

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Rupert Evelyn