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Coronavirus (COVID-19): Advice and guidance for the physical activity sector

Advice and guidance on reducing the risks from Coronavirus (COVID-19) to you and your business

With the rapidly changing nature of the COVID-19 outbreak, information and advice from Government can change quickly. For all the latest Government information on COVID-19 and the measures the Government, and devolved governments, are taking, please visit:

The information below is kept under continuous review and is updated regularly.

Requests to Government

Lobbying activities

Overall engagement

Over the course of the pandemic, ukactive has engaged with the following decision makers:

England:

  • Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) – including Ministers
  • Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) – including Ministers
  • Ministry for Housing, Communities, and Local Government (MHCLG)
  • HM Treasury (HMT) – including Ministers
  • Cabinet Office – including Ministers
  • Local government officials (including Bradford and Liverpool among others)

Scotland:

  • The Health and Social Care Directorate
  • Financial Management Directorate

Wales:

  • Department of Health and Social Services
  • Department for Finance

Northern Ireland

  • Department of Health

Outcome – Gyms in England open in Tier 3

  • Following reopening in England on 25th July 2020, some local councils made the decision to continue to keep facilities closed.

ukactive worked with DCMS, DHSC, and Bradford Council to ensure gyms there were allowed to open. This included letters to the leader of Bradford Council, the Secretary of States for DHSC and DCMS, and local MPs, on 4th August 2020.

  • On the introduction of the three-tier system, and the closure of gyms in Liverpool, ukactive worked with local gym owners on reopening the sector. This included letters to Liverpool MPs, the local Metro Mayor, the City Mayor, and the Secretaries of State for DCMS, MHCLG, and DHSC on 13th October 2020.
  • Next steps: Discussions continue with DCMS around the status of fitness classes within Step 3 (from 12th April).

Outcome – Wales removes 30-person limit on leisure centres

  • Following the reopening in Wales, the Welsh Government mandated a 30-person limit on people regardless of the size of facilities.
  • ukactive wrote a letter to the First Minister in September, including Welsh Government officials, setting out the impact of this imposition on facilities.
  • This was accompanied by the latest data on transmission rates, which was shared once a week with Welsh Government officials.
  • On 14th September 2020, Wales agreed to make the person limit proportionate to the size of the facility.
  • Next steps: In discussions with Welsh Government, ensure no arbitrary limit is imposed on facilities upon reopening.

Outcome – Cultivating MP support for the sector

  • Throughout the pandemic, ukactive have written to all MPs on a number of occasions, including 08/04/2020, 29/06/2020, 04/09/2020, 24/09/2020, 10/10/2020, 18/11/2020, 29/12/2020.
  • Letters have also been sent separately to MPs from Wales and Scotland on 17/08/2020 and 26/08/2020 respectively.
  • Alongside this, ukactive has submitted many Parliamentary questions for MPs.
  • ukactive has assisted in organising visits for MPs to local facilities around GBWOS.
  • ukactive CEO Huw Edwards has appeared before the DCMS Committee on two occasions, as well as the House of Lords Sport and Recreation Committee.
  • As part of the petition to keep gyms open in the highest tier of coronavirus restrictions, ukactive took part in a pre-briefing with Petitions Committee Chair Catherine McKinnell MP ahead of the debate on 23rd Novembeer, and sent a briefing to all MPs speaking.
  • ukactive has drafted template letters to MPs for members throughout the pandemic, including following the January lockdown. This latest outreach has resulted in a number of meetings with MPs in the leadup to reopening.
  • Next steps: Continued engagement with MPs in the lead-up to reopening, the Spring Budget, and beyond.

Outcome – Ensuring financial support for the sector

  • The March 2020 Budget delivered support for the sector on business rates, as per ukactive’s Budget Submission in February 2020.
  • On 19th March, ukactive wrote to the Chancellor proposing the following measures:
  • Comprehensive salary payment support
  • Cessation of rental payments
  • Proper financing for local authority provision
  • These demands were eventually granted by the Chancellor, alongside Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans, and the extension of the business rates holiday for all sized businesses.
  • On 13th April, ukactive urged the Secretary of State for MHCLG to restrict tactics used by landlords coercing gyms and leisure centres into paying rent during periods of closure.
  • On 29th April, ukactive and Community Leisure UK wrote to every MP asking for support on ring-fenced funding for public leisure.
  • On 5th May, ukactive identified five key areas for policy support: workforce; support to rebuild; local authority leisure providers; rent; children and young people.
  • In June 2020, ukactive wrote to the Secretary of State for MHCLG demanding proper funding for local authorities
  • On 4th July, ukactive wrote to the Prime Minister asking for financial support for the sector.
  • On 22nd October, the Government announced £100m in funding for public leisure.
  • In mid-January 2021, ukactive submitted its recommendations as part of the Treasury’s Budget consultation.
  • In March 2021, the Government announced an extension of the business rates holiday for the sector, as well as £18,000 restart grants for gyms.
  • Next steps: Continued engagement around the Spring Budget.
  • Next steps: Publication of a plan for long-term recovery of the sector.

Outcome – Support on rent

  • On 13th April, ukactive urged the Secretary of State for MHCLG to restrict tactics used by landlords coercing gyms and leisure centres into paying rent during periods of closure.
  • On 17th June, ukactive joined with the leisure, hospitality, and retail sectors to call for urgent extension of rent protection.
  • This led to the introduction of the Government’s Code of Practice for the commercial property sector
  • ukactive is in consultation with MHCLG on the Code of Practice, and the upcoming Commercial Landlord and Tenant Review.
  • In March 2021, the Government announced an extension of the moratorium on evictions due to unpaid rents, through to 30th
  • Next steps: Responding the Commercial Landlord and Tenant Review.

Outcome – Reopening the sector in Scotland

  • On 15th May 2020, ukactive wrote to the First Minister setting out the safe and essential nature of the sector, and the need to work towards reopening as soon as possible.
  • ukactive has had regular (biweekly) calls with the Scottish Government on reopening.
  • A visit for the Scottish CMO to visit a facility was in the process of being arranged in August. However, the announcement of a reopening date made the visit redundant.
  • On 20th August, the Scottish Government announced it would reopen the sector on 31st
  • The sector reopened in Scotland on 31st August 2020.
  • ukactive continues to send data updates to Scottish Government officials during periods the sector is open.
  • Next steps: Continued weekly engagement with the Scottish Government ahead of date of reopening.

Outcome – Reopening the sector in England

  • ukactive wrote to the Secretary of State for DHSC in April 2020 stressing the safety of the sector.
  • On 7th May 2020, ukactive produced a framework for reopening, including the safety measures each facility would be taking, and the rationale behind them. This was shared with the Department for Health and Social Care.
  • On 1st July 2020, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jonathan Van Tam visited a facility alongside representatives from the Department for Health and Social Care, ensuring the correct safety procedures were being followed to make it Covid-secure.
  • On 9th July, the UK Government announced facilities in England would reopen on 25th
  • The sector in England reopened on 25th July 2020.
  • Since reopening, ukactive has provided weekly data submissions to DCMS on the rate of transmission within facilities, showing the extremely low-prevalence rate.
  • ukactive continues to have weekly discussions with DCMS on the plan for reopening following the lockdown imposed in January.
  • On 22nd February 2021, Government confirmed resumption of outdoor team sports on 29th March, reopening of indoor facilities on or after 12th April, and resumption of exercise classes on or after 17th
  • Next steps: Continued engagement with DCMS on reopening of exercise classes in Step 2.
  • Next steps: Work with Government to ensure proper arrangements are in place for swift reopening.

Outcome – Reopening the sector in Wales

  • On 15th May 2020, ukactive wrote to the First Minister setting out the safe and essential nature of the sector, and the need to work towards reopening as soon as possible.
  • On 8th June, ukactive met with the Welsh Government, Sport Wales, and the Welsh Sports Association to agree on a path toward reopening. There followed regular engagement between ukactive and the Welsh Government.
  • The sector reopened in Wales on 10th August 2020.
  • Since reopening, ukactive has provided weekly data submissions to the Welsh Government on the rate of transmission within facilities, showing the extremely low-prevalence rate.
  • Next steps: Continued weekly engagement with the Welsh Government ahead of date of reopening.

Outcome – Reopening the sector in Northern Ireland

  • On 15th May 2020, ukactive wrote to the First Minister setting out the safe and essential nature of the sector, and the need to work towards reopening as soon as possible.
  • There was regular engagement between ukactive and the Northern Ireland executive on plans for reopening, including sharing of ukactive’s framework for facilities.
  • Gyms and leisure centres in Northern Ireland reopened on 4th
  • Following reopening, ukactive sent weekly updates on prevalence rates in facilities to the Northern Irish Government.
  • Next steps: Continued weekly engagement with the Northern Irish Government ahead of date of reopening.

Outcome – Ensuring allowance of personal training

  • As communal outdoor exercise was permitted in June, ukactive sought guidance from DHSC as to the extent personal training would be allowed. This confirmed personal trainers could meet with a class of up to 6 outdoors, as long as social distancing is maintained.
  • During the November (and subsequent lockdowns) ukactive have passed on member FAQs to DCMS for clarity on the status of personal training.
  • In December, ukactive lobbied DCMS to update the guidance surrounding personal training in Tier 3.
  • Next steps: Ensure through discussions with Government that personal training continues to be permitted inside facilities upon reopening.

Upcoming engagement

Over the coming weeks we will continue engagement across the four nations on specific questions surrounding reopening, as well as on financial support for the sector.

For our statement on the latest announcement in England, please click here.

Who to contact

Contact Information

If you require support or guidance during this challenging time, please contact the ukactive Client Services team: membership@ukactive.org.uk 

ukactive Risk Helpline

We have been working closely with a new ukactive Strategic Partner, Partners&, a specialist insurance broker for the health and fitness sector, to help members with risk and insurance issues around Covid-19, reopening, and managing their risks going forward.

If you have any questions regarding insurance, please feel free to call the ukactive Risk Helpline, hosted by Partners& and available free for ukactive members: 0118 334 8055

Press Statements

Analysis

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