Gyms losing faith over reopening exclusion, Tanni Grey-Thompson warns PM

The Paralympian has written to the Prime Minister, in her role as chair of ukactive, asking for clarity over when fitness centres and gyms can reopen.

Tanni Grey-Thompson
Tanni Grey-Thompson

Paralympian Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson has written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson calling on him to personally intervene to get gyms and fitness centres open sooner.

In her role as chair of ukactive, which represents gym and fitness chains, she wrote that the Government should provide formal reasons for the sector not getting the green light to reopen on July 4, alongside pubs, restaurants and museums.

The sector has been told it could provisionally reopen in mid-July in England, but there have been no formal dates set and Lady Grey-Thompson asks for an explanation on how the “relative risk of a busy pub at one-metre social distancing is lower than a controlled gym or leisure centre environment”.

Coronavirus – Thu Jun 4, 2020
Pubs can reopen, but gyms must remain closed under the latest proposals (David Parry/PA)

Lady Grey-Thompson added in her letter to the PM: “As Chair of ukactive, I’m writing to express my disappointment at the decision to delay the reopening of indoor facilities within the sport and physical activity sector, and to seek reassurances for a swift resolution.

“My disappointment and frustration is shared today by millions across the country who own, work at, and use these community assets.”

She warns that 100,000 jobs could be lost in the sector and points out that ukactive submitted plans in May on how its members could reopen, with the details welcomed by Government.

The letter says: “At no point were any formal concerns raised about the proposed operating model within our guidance, and no formal questions asked for ukactive or our operators to respond to – an act we would have undertaken enthusiastically.

“Given this sequence of events, the omission of our sector from the reopening plans yesterday has shocked the whole sector.

“The message from the Secretary of State stating an aspiration to reopen indoor gyms and leisure facilities in mid-July is something I personally welcome, but regrettably many in the sector have lost faith in the process.”

She warned that further delays could see some sites not reopening and to “lose these facilities in the midst of the biggest health crisis could set back public health for a generation”.

Outdoor sports facilities and gyms have been told they can reopen in England from July 4, although team sports remain off-limits, including cricket, with the PM describing a cricket ball as “a vector of disease”.

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