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31 Jul 2020

Scotland's decision to keep gyms shut until September 'ridiculous' and shows lack of respect for the sector
BY Tom Walker

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon's 'indicative date' of 14 September for the reopening of gyms has angered the sector

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon's 'indicative date' of 14 September for the reopening of gyms has angered the sector
photo: Shutterstock.com/Twocoms

Gyms, health clubs and swimming pools in Scotland have finally been given an "indicative" time for a possible re-opening – but the 14 September date has angered the sector.

First minister Nicola Sturgeon, who hasn't exactly endeared herself to the fitness industry by previously branding gyms as "hotbeds for transmission", made the announcement at her daily press conference on 30 July.

Gyms in England reopened last weekend, while gym facilities have also opened in Northern Ireland. It is believed that a date for Wales will be announced shortly – and that it will be set for mid- or late August.

The Scottish government's decision was branded "ridiculous" by a number of industry stakeholders – including entrepreneur Duncan Bannatyne, founder of the Bannatyne Group.

A furious Bannatyne took to Twitter in the wake of Sturgeon's announcement.

"Nicola Sturgeon seems hell-bent on keeping gyms closed regardless of the cost to users," he tweeted.

"She won’t take the time to visit one of our health clubs to see how we keep members safe."

Bannatyne also took Sturgeon to task on her decision to allow pubs and bingo halls to open prior to gyms.

"Gyms have membership logging in systems that allow us to track members movements historically," he said.

"The system tells us which other members were in the club at the same time. This gives us the best track and trace system in the world – no pubs have this.

"We have an indicative date and I don’t trust her not to change that date for spurious reasons.

"Her advisors have not told her that a 30,000sq ft Health Club with the best air circulation in existence and temperature testing with a mandatory mask policy is less safe than a pub, bingo hall or bowling alley. Show me the evidence that I am wrong."

Industry body ukactive also condemned the decision – and said it would be in touch with the Scottish government to try and chart a "clear roadmap" for reopenings.

"We are hugely disappointed and frustrated by this announcement," said Huw Edwards, ukactive CEO.

"These facilities should be open now, and the sector should be afforded the respect given to other parts of society.

“Our sector deserves clarity but sadly this is lacking from the Government’s actions to date, posing the threat of permanent closure to hundreds of gyms and leisure facilities which provide a vital public health service to communities across Scotland.

"We have consistently invited the government and health officials to visit any of the hundreds of gym and leisure centre show sites across the country, and witness how facilities would operate with thorough social distancing measures and hygiene standards in place.

"This invite should be taken up, as the failure to visit facilities undermines the decision-making process within the Scottish Government.

“Conversations will continue with government to establish a clear roadmap to reopening.”



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