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ukactive has issued the following statement in response to the Government’s announcement today (23 June) about the next phase of its reopening strategy

Huw Edwards, CEO of ukactive, said: “ukactive has been in discussions with the Government today, in the period building up to the Prime Minister’s announcement.

“Many people will be understandably frustrated by the decision not to reopen the fitness and leisure sector from 4 July.

“However, the Government has indicated that gyms and leisure facilities will reopen from mid-July, subject to final agreement between health officials and our sector.

“In these discussions, we are completely confident in addressing any questions the Government and health officials may have, based on the comprehensive health and safety guidance we published and shared with the Government on 7 May.

“Furthermore, we have invited Government and health officials to visit any of the hundreds of gym and leisure centre show sites across the country, and witness how facilities would operate with thorough social distancing measures and hygiene standards in place.

“Our sector’s safety standards are among the highest in Europe, where other nations have already reopened their gyms and leisure facilities safely.

“Any further delay to our reopening will threaten our nation’s recovery from COVID-19. With obesity the second largest cause of hospitalisation from this virus, gyms and leisure centres are equipped to not only combat COVID-19, but to support rehabilitation for those recovering from the virus.

“Closed facilities cannot support that fight. Closed facilities will also worsen the health inequalities in this nation, especially as one in four members of public leisure facilities is from a BAME background, a community where health disparities from COVID-19 have been felt most.

“Any further delay to reopening would also have grave economic consequences, including the potential loss of 2,800 facilities and over 100,000 jobs.

“Greater Government engagement and clarity is now crucial. This is a health crisis, and this sector is safe to reopen and lead the fightback against COVID-19.

“Conversations will continue with Government this afternoon to establish a clear roadmap to reopening.”