Humphrey Cobbold, CEO of PureGym, urged politicians to reconsider the “backward step that has no scientific basis”. “If they fail to do so… they will actively contribute to the willful destruction of a sector which is an essential service where many operators are already in financial distress,” he said.
Businesses “wouldn’t stand by and watch this destruction happen,” Cobbold said. “We will be looking at all steps that can be taken to support our industry and its members, including using legal processes if that is the right thing to do.”The government is already facing a legal challenge within the hospitality industry where executives have complained that the new rules are not based on “hard scientific evidence”.
Gyms and recreation centers were among the latest businesses to reopen this summer, and to comply with social distancing rules, they reduced their occupancy rates and introduced stringent cleaning regimes.
Industry argues that the safety protocols in place have worked with the coronavirus incidence estimated at one in 100,000, by ukactive, the industry’s professional body, which has been collecting data since July.
Glenn Earlam, general manager of the David Lloyd chain, said he was “astonished” by the decision to close gymnasiums and recreation centers while allowing restaurants to remain open.
“Since our clubs reopened on July 25, we have only had eight cases out of over 130,000 member visits to our two clubs in the Knowsley and Speke area, with, most importantly, not a single known case of transmission. within the club, ”Earlam said.
Huw Edwards, chief executive of Ukactive, said there had been no consultation and called for the closings to be postponed while the evidence was reviewed.
“We continue to call for decisions to be made on the latest scientific and operational evidence available from our industry, which to date shows an extremely low prevalence of Covid-19 in our members’ facilities,” he said.
Gym enthusiasts would be “bitterly disappointed that they couldn’t exercise, especially as the nights got longer and the temperatures got colder,” Cobbold added.
“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.”