Gym owner fears closure if Newcastle slips into Tier 3 Covid restrictions

James Brown, Owner of 60 Smarter Gym

A gym owner based in the Byker area of Newcastle has told ITV News Tyne Tees that he fears for the future of his business if the city slips into stricter Covid-19 Tier 3 restrictions.Newcastle is currently in Tier 2, which means the Rule of Six applies outdoors, indoors you can only mix with people from your own household or support bubble and there is a 10pm curfew for pubs.If the city went into Tier 3 restrictions, it would mean all pubs must close, along with gyms, leisure centres and casinos. There would be no mixing of households indoors and six people could meet outdoors in public spaces, but not in private gardens. Travel in and out of the area should be avoided too.James Brown, the owner of 60 Smarter Gym, told ITV News "I really don’t see a way we could survive it."

Closing the doors at the 60 Smarter Gym in Byker had a major impact on James Brown's business. Unable to secure a grant to keep afloat during the coronavirus lockdown, Brown and his business partner Dan were fortunate to reopen when restrictions were eased.The gym has only just started returning pre-lockdown client numbers, but James said it is a constant concern the business could fold if another lockdown was imposed.

The last lockdown that we had we, I mean I say we survived, we absolutely scraped it and I’ve been in business for many years reaching the point of owning the gym. If we went into another lockdown that would inevitably just cripple my entire business to be honest. I really don’t see a way we could survive it...we all agree that it could be game over if another lockdown comes into place. 

James Brown, 60 Smarter Gym

Byker High Street

On Byker high street people were adamant they would continue to stick to the social distancing rules, wearing masks and following the government guidance in order to protect not just the health of the public, but businesses too.

One woman said "if it means places can stay open a bit longer then I don’t see why not". A man said "everyone’s happy to go the extra mile. It's just a case of everyone being sensible. I think there’s ironically some of the new restrictions that they’re trying to bring in are redundant essentially, because some of the venues and some of the stuff that they’re closing are actually some of the safest places to go."

Another woman said "we’ve all got to follow the rules and do the best that we can to keep out of Tier Three, but it’s difficult to know how that’s going to be policed."

Northumbria University

Some 619 students at Northumbria University and 1,003 students at Newcastle University tested positive for Covid-19 in the first week of October.

But one student said "I feel like everyone is trying their best, but everyone is getting a lot of blame still so it’s not really fair". However, one male student said "I think there’s two groups, certainly. I think there’s people who are taking it seriously, then there’s maybe a side group that are not" and another female student said she was "scared" because others are still having parties.

The Director of Public Health for Newcastle told ITV News the student infection rate would "make a big difference to the headline figures" for the city, but he said it is imperative for everyone in Newcastle to continue adhering to the guidelines in order to avoid going into Tier 3.

I think we have seen the majority of people responding to those because we have seen those changes in the numbers. What we want is to try and sustain that because, if we do get a bit of breathing space, it gives us the opportunity for thinking about how we get to some balance that we can then sustain over a period of months.

Prof. Eugene Milne, Director of Public Health, Newcastle