In a surprising move, the government has given permission for sports facilities in England to begin reopening. Initial projections had suggested that gyms would be closed until at least the Autumn when it was hoped that the virus is more completely under control.
Outdoor pools were given permission to reopen from 11 July although many pools remained closed as they were only given a few days' notice to comply with the new rules. Many venues have said they need time to prepare the pool and properly implement social distancing measures. There are also outdoor pools that will remain closed for the summer season as it will not be financially viable for them to open this late in the season.
From 25 July, indoor gyms, swimming pools and sports facilities are allowed to reopen. Outdoor gyms were permitted to reopen from 4 July.
The new guidance includes many suggested measures for these facilities to operate safely including:
- Limiting the number of people using facilities at one time;
- Reducing class sizes;
- Spacing out equipment or taking some out of service to maintain social distancing;
- Enhanced cleaning and providing hand sanitizer throughout venues;
- Encouraging participants to shower and change at home wherever possible, although changing rooms can be made available.
The UK government is only responsible for lifting lockdown restrictions in England. This is because health is a devolved matter, which means that the Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are responsible for their own policies in relation to public health matters. Gyms in Northern Ireland have already reopened but no date has yet been published for Scotland or Wales.