Sport, parks and leisure - Write to your MP now – fight to keep gyms open...
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03 Nov 2020

Write to your MP now – fight to keep gyms open
BY Tom Walker

If the government classes gyms and leisure centres as 'essential services', it would mean they could keep their doors open during lockdown

If the government classes gyms and leisure centres as 'essential services', it would mean they could keep their doors open during lockdown
photo: oneinchpunch

Industry body, ukactive, is encouraging all fitness operators in England to contact their local MP and to request them to join the campaign to keep gyms, health clubs and leisure centres open during the forthcoming "Lockdown 2".

ukactive wants the government to class gyms and leisure centres as "essential services" – which would mean they could keep their doors open during lockdown.

MPs are set to hold a House of Commons debate and vote on the lockdown measures tomorrow (Wednesday 4 November) – just a day before the lockdown is expected to begin. The new restrictions are set to last at least until 2 December.

On 2 November, ukactive chair Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson sent a letter to every single MP, asking for their support to get gyms and leisure centres classed as essential.

Now, ukactive wants all of its members to contact their MP to ask them to join the movement – and has published a template letter, which members can complete and forward to constituency offices.

HCM is supporting the efforts to class physical activity as an essential service and is publishing the template letter below. Please send this to your MP as soon as possible:

Dear XXX,

I am writing on behalf of XXX[organisation] in XXX [constituency] to ask for your support in ensuring gyms and leisure centres are classed as essential services for your constituents, and are kept open for the sake of their mental and physical wellbeing.

We believe that encouraging and supporting people to be physically active is of critical importance to your constituents and across the nation, and, therefore, we must keep access open to places where people are able to do that safely, particularly gyms, pools and leisure facilities.

Our sector is essential to the battle with Covid-19 directly supporting the nation’s health, wellbeing and resilience. In your constituency, health services including gyms and leisure centres should be accessible, even during a lockdown.

Loss of access to these facilities will damage activity levels significantly, as proven by the recent Sport England analysis that showed a significant drop in activity levels in the first lockdown. We should also highlight the SAGE analysis that documented the loss in access to facilities will have a detrimental impact on mental wellbeing and potentially increase health inequalities with some BAME and vulnerable groups.

The decision to close physical activity spaces is also deeply disappointing due to the track record of safety and hygiene that the sector has sustained in response to the challenge of Covid-19. The data collated for the UK across the whole period since reopening – measured from 25 July to 11 October – shows facilities have seen more than 45 million visits, with an overall rate of 0.99 cases per 100,000 visits.

The low prevalence rate is testament to the efforts here at XXX [organisation] and elsewhere to ensure facilities are safe, and the work done in collaboration with the Government to implement Covid-secure guidelines is working. Facilities are working robustly to ensure strict adherence to social distancing and enhanced hygiene standards and we strongly believe these are safe and accessible places.

As we approach the winter months, it is essential communities have access to a safe space to stay physically active and preserve their long-term mental and physical wellbeing. Given the safety of the sector, we are asking for your support in ensuring gyms and leisure centres re-open again at the earliest opportunity.

It is essential you use your voice to advocate for the sector over the coming days, inside and outside Parliament, in order to protect the physical and mental health of your constituents.

If you have any questions, or would like further information, please do not hesitate to get in contact.

Best wishes

XXX [name, title, organisation]




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