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15 Jun 2021

Health clubs and gyms need more support to survive delay to Step 4
BY Tom Walker

Huw Edwards said the delay to Step 4 must go hand-in-hand with additional support

Huw Edwards said the delay to Step 4 must go hand-in-hand with additional support
photo: ukactive

Operating a further four weeks at reduced capacity will place serious pressure on English fitness facilities – if the government doesn't urgently provide additional financial support.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson today (14 June) confirmed a four-week delay to Step 4 – the final easing of lockdown measures – saying the extra time could prevent thousands of unnecessary deaths.

Following the announcement, industry body, ukactive, said the government must couple the delay with adequate help to safeguard the future of health clubs, gyms and leisure centres in England.

Huw Edwards, CEO of ukactive, said: “We respect the government’s safety considerations and the decision to delay the relaxing of restrictions in England until 19 July.

"However, it is imperative that this comes hand-in-hand with additional support for our nation’s fitness and leisure facilities.

“Today’s delay means gyms, pools and leisure centres will continue to operate at reduced capacity to allow for social distancing, so we call on the Government to urgently set out its plans for business support."

Edwards also detailed the assistance the industry was calling for.

“Our members are facing a cliff-edge moment on 1 July, when the moratorium of forfeiture comes to an end and business rates are set to be reintroduced.

“Employer contributions to furlough payments recommencing from 1 July only adds to the perfect storm facing the fitness and leisure sector.

“An estimated 400 facilities across the sector had closed by the end of the first quarter in 2021, and thousands more will be at risk of closure if the Government does not commit to a solution on rent.

“We require an urgent response from the Government to the recommendations set out in our sector consultation, including the ring-fencing of COVID-related arrears, the reduction of rent due during closures and restricted trading, and an extension to the current date for lifting protection measures.

“In addition, we have called for phase two of the National Leisure Recovery Fund which is desperately needed by public operators, as well as VAT relief for private operators.

“Gyms, pools and leisure facilities have set the benchmark for safety standards and transparency throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and our members will continue to respect the Government’s guidance during this period, but they must receive the financial support they need to both survive and recover.”



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