Deeside gym boss: “absolutely ludicrous” Wales is operating different lockdown rules, as gyms in England given date to reopen
The boss of a Deeside gym is calling for a clear date on when he can reopen the doors to members after the UK government gave counterparts in England the green light to restart later this month.
Glyn Stephens franchisee and club manager at énergie Fitness said he was “bitterly disappointed” there has been no clear signal from the Welsh government on when indoor gyms in Wales can reopen.
Indoor leisure facilities such as gyms, dance studios and swimming pools in England have been told they can reopen in mid-July.
Gyms in Northern Ireland reopened on Friday, it’s less clear when they will reopen in Scotland.
Following the latest 21-day review of coronavirus regulations in Wales, First Minister Mark Drakeford announced on Friday a raft measures to further lift lockdown restrictions.
He outlined a phased timetable to ease the restrictions for large parts of Wales’ visitor, hospitality, and leisure and tourism sectors.
Outdoor hospitality and hairdressers have been given the nod to reopen from Monday.
Cinemas, museums and galleries will also be able to reopen towards the end of the month.
Mr Drakeford had previously said that indoor gyms are “not in the current list of places that can re-open and are not likely to be for a while yet.”
He said indoor gyms were “emerging as a source of coronavirus infection,” a claim which rattled bosses at Britain’s biggest gym chain PureGym.
The company said it has successfully re-opened in Denmark and Switzerland.
PureGym also pointed to gyms across Germany, France, Spain and Holland which have reopened with no evidence of an increase in COVID-19 as a result.
In a statement earlier this month, the gym operator said: “We urgently call on the First Minister to re-examine the current, factual evidence, engage with us and our industry bodies, and allow the Welsh people back into gyms as soon as possible.”
Mr Drakesford’s stance on gyms appears to have softened in the past few days, during Friday’s press conference, he said his government was in talks with the industry and will use the next three weeks to “discuss whether it is possible to safely to reopen indoor gyms.”
The First Minister also said on Friday outdoor gyms can reopen from July 20.
Glyn Stephens, who opened his gym on Deeside Retail Park just over 12 months ago, said, “the decision to continue to keep indoor gyms closed whilst suffering a national health crisis is very worrying indeed.”
He said research has “clearly demonstrated” that being overweight is a serious risk factor for anyone who contracts Covid-19 and “that doing exercise is one of the best things you can do to help mitigate its effects and maintain good physical health.”
The long period of lockdown and people living in isolation for such a long time “has had a devastating effect on mental health across the nation and to some people, the gym is their second home.” Said Glyn.
He believes gyms should be a “key priority” for the Welsh government to open up as soon as possible and said, “there has been no hard evidence to suggest gyms are worse than other industries.”
Glyn said: “We think it’s absolutely ludicrous that Wales is operating different lockdown rules to England.”
“There is no reason why Wales should be opening gyms or anything else in that matter later than England.
This makes us upset even more so as our gym is located on the border, based only 10 minutes away from Chester.”
“We are pleading with the nations to work together and try and re-open up the leisure sector all at the same time, soon, otherwise, it could be devastating to a company like ours.”
“If these delays continue,” Glyn said, the Welsh government must step in and offer more financial support to the private leisure sector.”
“All in all, me and my wife setup this company with a vision of investing in Wales; a vision of bringing premium leisure facilities to North Wales so that our people could experience and enjoy state-of-the-art facilities just like other areas of the UK and at the moment we feel like the Welsh government is really letting us down.” He added.
Glyn said his club is ready to reopen having undertaking a series of measures to reduce the risk posed by COVID-19.
He said: “We have gone above and beyond to ensure the club will be safe, clean and fit for purpose.”
“As part of a national franchise network we are following strict guidelines from our head office and the governing body UK Active.” Glyn said.
The club boss added: “A deep clean of the club and equipment has been initiated by a professional cleaning company, equipment has been spaced out appropriately with floor gridding to ensure safe distancing.
Five sanitising stations are to be installed to ensure cleanliness is well maintained and safety signage is being displayed all around the club to keep people informed and aware at all times of the day.
Unlike other industries, we are also able to track every single person that comes in the club via our advanced CRM systems and we have also introduced a capacity management system to ensure the club is never oversubscribed on a daily basis.”
The next announcement on the Wales coronavirus lockdown is scheduled for Friday 31 July.
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