Government called on to ‘protect health and leisure sector before it’s too late’

The health and leisure industry has called on the Government for urgent financial support to safeguard “the physical and mental wellbeing of people across the UK”.

Fitness centres, gyms, swimming pools and tennis courts have all been forced to close again following the latest lockdown measures in the fight against coronavirus.

Ukactive, a non-profit industry association which represents more than 4,000 gyms and leisure centres, has also warned that jobs and businesses are under threat.

“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,” said ukactive chief executive Huw Edwards.

“Therefore, they must be prioritised and protected or we risk widespread business failure that will have major health impacts for a generation.”

Edwards said it was “crucial” the further restrictions were respected, but urged the Government for “credible plans to minimise the damaging impact lockdown has on the physical and mental wellbeing of people across the UK”.

“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.”