Now more than six weeks into the UK’s third national lockdown, New Body Plan fitness director Joe Warner shifts through the latest speculation to work out when we can get back to the gym
Why are UK gyms closed?
Gyms, leisure centres, swimming pools, and all indoor and outdoor sports facilities have been closed in the UK since January 5th this year, the day after the current (and third) national lockdown was announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, because of soaring COVID-19 infection rates across the country.
Since then the only exercise permitted has been at-home workouts, or an outdoors walk, run or cycle, and only in your local area and with people living in your household, or with a maximum of one other person from another household, so long as they adhere to social distancing measures of keeping at least two metres away.
When will UK gyms re-open?
Gyms won’t open before April 12th, but the hope is that we won’t have to wait any longer than that. The latest guidelines, issued by the Prime Minister on 22nd February, placed “indoor leisure” facilities, which includes gyms, in “Step 2” of the planned reopening of wider society.
However, you will only be allowed to go alone, or with members of your household, and group exercise classes aren’t expected to resume until the middle of May when the restrictions limiting indoor gatherings are slated to be relaxed.
This “Step 2” reopening will also include personal care premises, such as hair dressers, barbers and beauty salons, retail parks and high-street shops, as well as all outdoor hospitality.
In the meantime, outdoor sports are expected to return at the end of March. According to the BBC, tennis courts and other outdoor sports facilities will reopen from Monday 29th March, and this includes the return of organised grassroots sports, such as football, cricket and hockey. There is no word as yet on other organised events, such as ParkRun.
What happened in the previous lockdowns?
At the start of the first UK lockdown, on March 20th, 2020, gyms, leisure centres and pools were ordered to close with immediate effect. Outdoor pools remained closed for almost four months, not reopening until July 11th, with all indoor sports and leisure facilities unlocking their doors another two weeks later on July 25th.
Many gyms instigated one-in-one-out policies or introduced pre-booked workouts slots to control gym-floor numbers, with alternate bits of cardio and weight training kit signposted as out of order to maintain social distancing measures. Most facilities closed showers and changing rooms too, with group classes either cancelled or with far fewer spaces available.
When the Tier system of restrictions was introduced on December 2nd, 2020, after the second national lockdown finished, some regions saw leisure facilities remain closed because of high rates of COVID-19 infection, while others were allowed to open, but since the start of 2021 all UK gyms, pools and sports courts have been closed.
Editor’s Note: We’ll update this post as soon as we know more. In the meantime, check out some of these home workout posts to help you get back into shape in time for summer!
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