A number of gym operators are concerned that local lockdowns could come into effect in some areas of the UK before gyms reopen, further delaying the full restarting of the industry – especially in major urban areas.
Leicester is already in lockdown, with other locations such as Bradford, Barnsley, Rochdale, Oldham, Rotherham and Tameside under close observation.
Luton, Peterborough, Bedford Kirklees and Derby are also on the list.
Other areas of concern are Redcar and Cleveland, Wokingham, Barking and Dagenham, Knowsley, Havering, Hammersmith and Fulham, Bolton, Doncaster and Sheffield. All have seen increases in the last week.
Some operators with concentrations of businesses in these areas are anticipating a possible extension to their own specific lockdown, even when the go-ahead is given for the general reopening of the industry.
The R rate – the speed with which the virus replicates within the population – is also creeping above 1 in some areas, as lockdown eases. London has moved from .8 to 1.1 in the last week.
With pubs reopening this weekend, there are also fears we could see an associated increase over the next fortnight.
Boris Johnson today hinted that gyms may be allowed to reopen in mid-July, which would coincide with any increase in cases resulting from this weekend’s pub reopenings – another reason why the “pubs before gyms” decision was bad timing for the fitness sector.
Speaking at a Downing Street press event today, Johnson said: “Just as when we first locked down, we will only succeed in reopening if everyone works together. Because we are not out of the woods yet.
“The virus is still with us and the spike in Leicester has shown that. If it starts running out of control again the Government will not hesitate in putting on the brakes and re-imposing restriction.”
All out-of-home leisure operators, from pubs and restaurants to spas and gyms – will be totally interdependent for the foreseeable future, depending on each other to operate in a COVID-secure way to avoid lockdowns which harm the prospects of all.
Local lockdowns could also have a bearing on which facilities are reopened and which are mothballed, with some operators considering walking away from sites in COVID hotspots, some temporarily and some permanently.
This new phase of the pandemic will also see gym operator’s company valuations increasingly linked to geography, with those running sites in areas where there is less COVID in circulation benefiting from higher valuations and being more sought after by investors.