Coronavirus: All you need to know as gyms and outdoor theatres get reopen date

Connor Parker
·5-min read

Gyms, swimming pools, outdoor performances and recreational sport were all given the green light to reopen by the government on Tuesday.

Announcing the measures, culture secretary Oliver Dowden said allowing pubs and restaurants to reopen on Saturday has not adversely affected the coronavirus fight and meant the nation could continue to ease measures.

Following on from the reopening of hairdressers, the government also said beauticians, nail bars, tanning shops, spas and tattooists will be allowed to open their doors again from Monday, July 13.

But the government added facial treatments, such as eyelashes, would not be allowed for the moment.

Dowden praised the “good British decent common sense” that had prevailed as the country slowly navigated its way out of the coronavirus crisis and edged towards a return to normal life.

People take part in a small exercise class at the Lionheart Fitness gym in Bedlington, Northumberland, which has moved some equipment into the car park as indoor gyms are still not permitted to open due to coronavirus lockdown restrictions. (Photo by Owen Humphreys/PA Images via Getty Images)
People take part in a small exercise class at the Lionheart Fitness gym in Bedlington, Northumberland, which has moved some equipment into the car park. (Getty)

He added: “Our fight began with a collective effort and I really hope it will end with one.

“At the beginning, we all stayed at home to protect the NHS and save lives; now the British public has a new part to play.

“It’s time to eat out to help out, to enjoy the arts to help out, and to work out to help out.”

While people will be pleased they can get back to the gym or go see a play, there are many new restrictions in place to limit the spread of the virus that all venues will need to conform to.

Culture, Media and Sport Secretary Oliver Dowden announcing the reopening of gyms. (Getty)
Culture, media and sport secretary Oliver Dowden announcing the reopening of gyms. (Getty)

Here’s what you need to know about the latest lifting of lockdown:

When will gyms, swimming pools and outdoor theatres reopen?

The government has said that outdoor swimming pools and outdoor performances will be allowed to reopen this Saturday, July 11.

Recreational sports teams, such as five-a-side football, will also be allowed to return on Saturday as long as they adhere to the new guidelines.

Read more:

The three places in England with zero new coronavirus cases

Rates of Covid-19 have stopped declining, study suggests

UK could face second lockdown ‘within months, if not weeks’

This will be followed by gyms and indoor swimming pools reopening on Saturday July 25.

What are the new rules for gyms and swimming pools?

Trips to the gym are likely going to be significantly different compared to what people were used to before lockdown began.

Firstly, the government has said people will need to book their visit in advance in order to better control attendance numbers and keep track of who has used the facilities.

Customers will also be encouraged to arrive in the clothes they intend to exercise in and shower at home with the use of changing rooms and showers being avoided where possible.

If you make use of classes then you can expect the number of attendants to be lower than before with social distancing in place.

Equipment will also be spaced out to keep people as far apart as possible and gyms have been asked to increase the number of times each piece is cleaned.

However, Dowden confirmed during the press conference that you won’t be required to wear a mask in the gym.

Outdoor theatres performances are all good, but when will we be allowed to see indoor shows?

Dowden was keen to encourage everyone to buy a ticket to see an outdoor show as soon as possible to help the beleaguered arts sector.

No date has been given for when theatre venues will be able to reopen properly, but Dowden did say small pilots of performances indoors with socially distanced audiences are being trialled.

Culture, Media and Sport Secretary Oliver Dowden discussing lockdown easing during a press conference on July 9 (Getty)
Culture, Media and Sport Secretary Oliver Dowden discussing lockdown easing during a press conference on July 9 (Getty)

He also announced the government was stepping in to protect theatres, stopping those that have been made temporarily vacant during lockdown disappearing altogether.

It will likely be awhile before performances will get back to normal, with Dowden indicating there is research ongoing into singing and brass instruments to see if they increased the spread of the virus during a show.

Equity, the UK Trade Union representing professional performers said it was their understanding that the government had included circuses under the definition of an outdoor performance.

They welcomed the government’s announcement, but added: “A full recovery means that support for workers has to be a priority.”

What’s happening with recreational sport?

Only outdoor sports teams are covered by the government’s latest announcement, there was no indication for when indoor activities will be allowed to reconvene.

The government’s framework sets plans to enable the safe return of grassroots fixtures and games.

The guidelines say teams should participate in track and trace efforts, all participants and spectators should be assessed for COVID-19 symptoms, limiting recreation time before or after a game, and adhering to social distancing during warm-ups.

The guidelines also say teams should come up with plans for games where a single ball needs to be touched to limit virus transmission, such as always cleaning the ball when it goes out of play.

Spectators will be allowed to attend community fixtures in small numbers as long as they adhere to the guidelines.

Coronavirus: what happened today

Click here to sign up to the latest news, advice and information with our daily Catch-up newsletter