Will gyms close again? How the new 3 tier Covid restrictions affect fitness centres


Gyms were reopened on 25 July to the delight of fitness fans across England, but a surge in new coronavirus cases means this could change.

In response to the spike in infection rates, Boris Johnson has introduced a series of new restrictions in highly affected areas.

This afternoon, the Prime Minster addressed the House of Commons on new measures aimed at curbing the coronavirus.

In high risk or tier three areas, gyms are likely to close, but more detail specific to particular regions is expected to follow later.

Here’s everything you need to know.

Will gyms close again?

A member of staff measures the temperature of a visitor before entering the gym at Nuffield Health Sunbury Fitness and Wellbeing Gym (Photo: AFP)

In “very high” or tier three regions, gyms may well close.

New measures announced for Liverpool, which will take effect from Wednesday, will see further restrictions on the “hospitality, leisure, entertainment and personal care [such as hair salons and barbers] sector”, said Mr Johnson.

The Prime Minister said discussions with local leaders in high infection areas, such as the North East, North West and Yorkshire and the Humber, were “ongoing”, but urged them to “work with us on these difficult but necessary measures”.

What rules are in place in gyms?

A fitness instructor cleans down gym machines at the North Tyneside Council Waves Gym and Swimming Centre in Whitley Bay North Tyneside (Photo: PA)

Gyms are required to comply with strict social distancing guidelines.

Restrictions include a limit on the number of people using the facility at any one time, reduced class sizes, timed booking systems, enhanced cleaning procedures, the spacing out of equipment and ensuring adequate ventilation.

Users are also asked to change and shower at home, rather than in the gym.

Some gyms are also measuring the temperature of visitors before entry.

In Scotland, indoor group exercise activities are currently prohibited, although gyms remain open for individual exercise.

Do I need to wear a face mask in the gym?

A man wearing a face mask exercises at a fitness centre in Mexico City (Photo: Reuters)

Current Government guidance states that face masks are not mandatory in gyms, although individual establishments may enforce their own rules.

The World Health Organisation does not recommend that people wear face masks while exercising as this may affect a person’s ability to breathe comfortable.

“Sweat can make the mask become wet more quickly which makes it difficult to breathe and promotes the growth of microorganisms,” it states.

“The important preventive measure during exercise is to maintain physical distance of at least one metre from others.”

What is the industry saying?

UK Active, a not-for-profit collective of members across the UK physical activity and fitness sector, has called on the Government to categorise gyms as essential services.

Huw Edwards, UK Active’s chief executive, said: “We are calling for the government to re-categorise all fitness and leisure facilities as essential services so that they can be fully supported to stay open during this period and play their role in the nation’s fight against Covid-19”.

When will we know more?

A postcode checker will be launched on the Government’s website to advise people what guidance applies to their area.

Each local authority area will be placed in a local Covid alert level by the end of Monday, Downing Street said.

The Prime Minister added that the announcement would be debated and voted on tomorrow.

The Prime Minister will also address the nation at 6pm this evening.

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