The lifting of England’s lockdown on 2 December points to a gradual return to (new) normality – at least until after Christmas. But what are the new measures predicted to look like?
Today, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that gyms, as well as non-essential shops, will be allowed to re-open after lockdown. Restrictions on outdoor grass-roots sports are also expected to be lifted, with football clubs and golf courses re-opening and running clubs allowed to meet again (although probably in groups of less than six).
The tier system is, however, likely to be tighter, with a ban on mixing between households indoors for those in tiers 1 and 2. That won’t apply to gym classes or sports.
Many fitness industry campaigners have called for gyms to be re-classified as “essential services” which would make them exempt from lockdown restrictions. But, for the next few days, at least, it looks like the home workouts are here to stay.
The news comes after a study suggested that gyms throughout Europe pose an extremely low risk of infection and should be kept open for the health and wellbeing of their communities.
After analysing more than 62 million gym visits from 14 European countries since September, Sheffield Hallam University researchers discovered that just 487 infections had been reported, which equated a rate of 0.78 cases per 100,000 visits.
‘Data from the SafeACTiVE study shows that gyms across the EU are safe places to exercise. The prevention of the further spread of Covid-19 has to be our primary objective but we also need to ensure that our communities are supported and have the opportunity to remain active,’ said Director of the AWRC Professor Rob Copeland.
‘We know that being physically fit can help reduce the severity of Covid-19 infection and, moreover, being active can help us cope psychologically when faced with the challenges of a second wave of the pandemic across Europe.
‘Keeping leisure centres and fitness clubs open and fully operational is critical to ensuring the health and wellbeing of our communities.
I would go further and suggest that governments across Europe should be thinking about how we can increase access to activity, not reduce it, as we learn to live with Covid-19.’