PureGym eyes legal challenge over Liverpool City Region gym closures

PureGym is considering legal action over the Government's decision to close gyms and fitness centres in Liverpool. Credit: PA

The UK's largest gym chain, PureGym, has said it is considering legal action over the Government's decision to close gyms and fitness centres in Liverpool City Region as part of Tier 3 Covid-19 restrictions.

Humphrey Cobbold, chief executive officer of the company, said the move, which will see it close seven sites in the Liverpool City Region, will actively contribute to the "wilful destruction" of the sector.

He urged the Government to present data to support the closure of gyms and fitness sites, claiming that there is "no evidence of Covid-19 transmission in gyms".

The Government and local leaders have said that gyms will have to close in the city, alongside leisure centres, betting shops, casinos, pubs and bars.

Gyms will have to close in Liverpool City Region alongside leisure centres, betting shops, casinos, pubs and bars. Credit: PA

Mr Cobbold told the PA News Agency that he hopes the Government will reconsider its decision.

We hope they can come to this decision by talking to us and trying to look at the evidence there is. But if this does not get better, then we might have no other option than to consider redress through legal mechanisms.

Humphrey Cobbold, chief executive officer, PureGym

He continued: "These restrictions will hit local operators hard but are also urging them to change because we believe this decision will be to the manifest detriment to people in the city."

It comes after leaders in the night-time economy announced on Monday that they have launched a legal challenge over the decision to shut pubs and bars, unless they choose to operate as restaurants, in Covid hotspots.

Seven PureGym sites in the Liverpool City Region will close. Credit: PA

The gym operator reopened its sites across the UK from the end of July after around four months of closures.

Mr Cobbold said the company has taken a £100 million hit as a result of the pandemic impact.

He said that group, which runs 276 UK gyms, has been notified of 11 staff and gym members who have been diagnosed with the virus across its Liverpool-based sites.

We urge the mayors and leaders of the Liverpool City Region to reconsider this retrograde step which has no scientific basis.

Humphrey Cobbold, chief executive officer, PureGym

"We urge the mayors and leaders of the Liverpool City Region to reconsider this retrograde step which has no scientific basis and we challenge the Government to present the data that supports this decision," Mr Cobbold added.

"Our members and other gym-goers in the area are bitterly disappointed to not be able to exercise, especially as the nights get longer and the temperatures colder.

"This decision will have a profound impact on some fitness facilities which are in a perilous state after the first lockdown and it will worsen the physical and mental health of the local population."

The Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, Steve Rotheram, tweeted to insist the decision to close gyms across the region was a decision by 'Government and Government alone'.

The Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, tweeted to say he was 'strongly against the closure of gyms' but is not able to 'reconsider a decision I did not make'.

Elsewhere, the CEO for Total Fitness, Sophie Lawler, described closing gyms as 'counterproductive' when an 'an active healthy lifestyle is one of the best ways to fight Covid-19'.

In a statement, she said: “The news that the vast majority of the UK's fitness industry can remain open is very welcome, however we are truly disappointed by the result for our members in Liverpool. Depriving those across Merseyside from health and fitness services, when we know that an active healthy lifestyle is one of the best ways to fight Covid-19, is counterproductive.

“Gyms, health clubs and leisure centres throughout the UK are part of the solution, not the problem, regardless of location – and we cannot afford to shut down any gyms at a time when the UK economy and the health and wellbeing of the nation depends on it.”