Anger over Boris Johnson's decision to reopen pubs ahead of gyms and pools

George Martin
·3-min read

Boris Johnson’s decision to reopen pubs and restaurants ahead of indoor gyms and swimming pools has been heavily criticised following his announcement on Tuesday.

A host of professional sportspeople and mental health campaigners posted on social media questioning the new measures after they were revealed by the prime minister in the Commons.

Indoor gyms, swimming pools spas, bowling alleys and water parks are all on the list of venues which will stay shut after 4 July.

But the PM said that Britons can return to pubs and restaurants with “minimal staff and customer contact”.

Glenn Earlam, chief executive of David Lloyd Clubs, said it was “completely illogical” to not allow indoor health and fitness facilities to reopen.

He said: “So what we hear is that pubs and restaurants will be able to reopen, but health and fitness facilities won’t be able to. To us this is bizarre because we are part of the solution.

“If people come to health and fitness facilities it helps boost their immune system, the chief medical officer has regularly said that health and fitness is one of the best things you can do to protect yourself from COVID-19.”

Mark Sesnan, managing director of GLL, which operates 270 leisure and sports facilities on behalf of local authorities in the UK, said the plans were “misguided and short-sighted”.

Sesnan said: “The government has made a potentially catastrophic mistake by leaving community leisure centres, indoor gyms and swimming pools off the list of businesses that can reopen on 4 July, nor given any indication when they might reopen.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson giving a statement in the House of Commons, London, on the reduction of further lockdown measures.
The prime minister announcing the new measures on Tuesday. (PA)

“This will be bad for business, bad for jobs and bad for the health of the nation.

Rower Matthew Pinsent said: “You've got to say given that swimming pools are pretty much huge immersion tanks of chlorinated water – it’s pretty weird that they aren't open again.”

Olympic swimmer Adam Peaty added: “It literally is a pool of disinfectant.”

Professional boxer Conrad Cummings tweeted: “Restaurant and pubs (that serve food) to open 3rd July BUT no gyms... something not right there.”

While mental health campaigner Benny James said: “In my opinion gyms should be opening before pubs, this lockdown has been a struggle for a lot of people physically and mentally and lot of people wanna get back in the gym to better themselves... Boris don’t have a clue.”

Gym chain TheGym in Southampton remains closed as lockdown restrictions have been relaxed to allow non-essential shops to reopen in England
Gym chains such as TheGym have remained closed since March. (PA)

Professional mixed martial-artist Marc Goddard said: “As those who know me can testify the pubs reopening is glorious but keeping gyms closed?

“I can’t support that one or figure it out. You think pub-goers can adhere to guidelines & advice before gym-goers? OK, good luck with that one! Pints before pushups!”

Following the PM’s announcement, culture secretary Oliver Dowden tweeted an update on when gyms are likely to reopen.

“Many people keen to hit the gym & keeping Britain fit is key in Covid battle,” he said.

“We’ve made lots of progress & I know steps businesses have taken to make their spaces & equipment safe

“Subject to public health, our aspiration is to reopen gyms & leisure facilities in mid-July.”

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