GYMS, pools and leisure cen­tres were last night given the go-ahead to re­open as the coun­try pre­pares to get back in shape at last.

Cul­ture sec­re­tary Oliver Dow­den urged peo­ple to ‘work out to help out’ as he an­nounced that, from Mon­day, nail bars, spas, tat­tooists and tan­ning sa­lons could wel­come back cus­tomers.

Out­door pools will be al­lowed to re­open from to­mor­row, and open air the­atri­cal, dance and mu­si­cal per­for­mances can also be held. Gyms, in­door pools and leisure cen­tres, along with dance stu­dios, can open from July 25.

Cus­tomers will be asked to book on­line and change at home.

Ev­ery­one must fol­low strict coro­n­avirus health and safety guide­lines. The an­nounce­ment was cau­tiously wel­comed by firms forced to close since lock­down was im­posed on March 23.

How­ever, crit­ics warned that it could

be too late for many. It comes af­ter pubs be­gan re­open­ing last Satur­day, and chan­cel­lor Rishi Su­nak an­nounced an ‘eat out to help out’ dis­count scheme on Wed­nes­day.

Mr Dow­den said: ‘The re­open­ing of gyms is the news mil­lions across the coun­try have been wait­ing for, with many peo­ple des­per­ate to jump on a spin­ning bike or dive into a pool.

‘Our com­pre­hen­sive guid­ance will en­sure gyms, pools and leisure cen­tres have the sup­port they need to re­open safely for their cus­tomers and staff.

‘Help­ing peo­ple re­turn to gyms safely will also help the na­tion get match-fit to de­feat this virus.’

He in­sisted the mea­sures were ‘con­di­tional and re­versible’, mean­ing new lock­downs could be im­posed if there were lo­cal spikes in the virus.

And he urged ev­ery­one to play their part in fight­ing Covid-19, urg­ing peo­ple to ‘eat out to help out, en­joy the arts to help out and work out to help out’.

The gov­ern­ment guid­ance in­sists venues limit the num­ber of users, en­cour­age timed book­ing sys­tems – and swim­mers are banned from do­ing the but­ter­fly stroke.

Smaller class sizes, sup­plies of hand sani­tiser, en­hanced clean­ing and ven­ti­la­tion are also re­quired, along with en­cour­ag­ing peo­ple to shower and change at home. Ex­er­cise and dance stu­dios should also have floor mark­ings, ac­cord­ing to the De­part­ment of Dig­i­tal, Cul­ture, Me­dia and Sport.

Recre­ational sports, such as vil­lage cricket, can start to­mor­row but play­ers must show no symp­toms of Covid-19 and avoid ‘un­nec­es­sary hud­dles’ and reg­u­larly clean equip­ment and fa­cil­i­ties.

Mr Dow­den said: ‘Of course, we’d have liked to have done this sooner but we re­ally do have to phase this care­fully.’

Han­nah Lanel, of The Fore gym in Lon­don’s Kings Cross, said: ‘Hal­lelu­jah... but it is a bit late. To open Mc­Don­ald’s and pubs be­fore gyms in a health cri­sis has been so frus­trat­ing.’

Sport Eng­land chief ex­ec­u­tive Tim Hollingswo­rth said: ‘To­day’s news is an im­por­tant step for­ward and tes­ta­ment to the hard work so many have put in to pre­par­ing to restart and re­open.’


Come on, swim: Out­door pools can open to­mor­row

Back ink ac­tion: Gyms can open from July 25 – and tat­tooists on Mon­day


Bright fu­ture: The coun­try’s nail bars can re­open from Mon­day

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