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ukactive has issued this statement in response to announcements by UK governments of new national lockdown measures today (4 January)

Huw Edwards, CEO of ukactive, said: “The further restrictions announced by the Prime Minister, along with those announced across the devolved administrations, shows the severity of this new chapter in the fight against COVID-19 and it is crucial they are respected.

“What we now need to see, alongside these announcements, are credible plans to minimise the damaging impact lockdown has on the physical and mental wellbeing of people across the UK.

“We know from the millions of people that depend on gyms, pools, and leisure centres to support their physical and mental health, how essential they are. We also know that despite positive encouragement from the Government, physical activity levels fell sharply and significantly during previous lockdowns.

“We cannot afford to wait until the vaccine rollout is advanced before we act, so the Government must explore all options at this time and provide a credible plan for maintaining this support to millions of people who rely on these COVID-secure facilities to stay strong and healthy.

“Furthermore, the UK governments must protect this sector before it becomes too late. They must acknowledge that January and February represent a vital period for gyms, pools, and leisure facilities to trade but they currently have zero income, unlike other sectors.

“Operators of all sizes across the UK are sounding the alarm that their businesses are unsustainable and facing substantial job losses if they are forced to close again without a comprehensive package of tailored financial and regulatory support. Therefore, they must be prioritised and protected or we risk widespread business failure that will have major health impacts for a generation.

“We remain fully committed to work with the UK governments on solutions to help people stay active during the depths of winter – in particular, groups who rely on indoor facilities for safe and supported exercise, such as people from lower-income groups, women, and patients undergoing rehabilitation from long-term health conditions. We have found solutions working with the governments at every stage of this crisis, and must do so again now.”