Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced that gyms may be able to reopen in a ‘couple of weeks’.
Johnson made the comments during an interview with radio station LBC this morning (3 July).
“We are going to reopen gyms as soon as we can do it in a COVID-19-secure way and I think that the date for reopening gyms at the moment, if we can do it, is in just a couple of weeks’ time,” Johnson said.
Johnson didn’t, however, offer any further details.
The statement came just days after Industry body ukactive hosted a delegation of government and public health officials on visits to a number of gyms and leisure centres.
The delegation, which included deputy chief medical officer, professor Jonathan Van-Tam, and representatives of Sport England was given the opportunity to see firsthand how the fitness sector is setting up its facilities safely, in accordance with government regulations on social distancing – and aligned to the ukactive framework.
HCM understands that intense work is currently going on behind the scenes, between ukactive, industry stakeholders, the government and health officials, to finalise the process for the reopening of the sector.
Johnson and his government have come under fierce criticism from the fitness industry, thanks to the decision to keep gyms, leisure centres and other health and fitness facilities closed, while allowing pubs and restaurants to open on 4 July.
The “pubs before gyms” announcement had been described as “ludicrous”, with one of the most vocal critics – Marc Diaper, CEO of Gymbox – openly challenging the decision.
On 26 June, Diaper announced that Gymbox would reopen all its gyms on 4 July, unless the UK government explains why he should not.
“Pubs opening before gyms is outrageous given the huge health benefits exercise brings,” Diaper said.
“Perhaps if we change our name from Gymbox to Ginbox, Boris will let us open?”
Last month, Tanni Grey-Thompson, chair of ukactive, sent an open letter to Johnson, which called on him to justify his decision with science, allow the sector access to the chief medical officer and formally explain the reasons for not allowing reopening.