Are gyms closing in lockdown? What Covid restrictions mean for fitness centres, and when they could open again

A second national lockdown will come into force as of Thursday 5 November to curb the spread of coronavirus.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the latest measures alongside chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance and chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty during a press conference at Downing Street on Saturday.

As with the first lockdown, everyone in England will be banned from leaving their home except for a list of specific circumstances including going to school, commuting to work if you cannot work at home, seeking medical care or buying essential supplies.

But will gyms close again? Here’s what the second lockdown means for fitness centres.

Are gyms closing again?

Gyms and fitness centres were one of the last businesses to reopen at the end of July, following the first lockdown in spring.

Sadly, under the latest lockdown rules, they are set to close again.

Gyms were among the last businesses to reopen following the first lockdown in spring (Photo: David Davies/PA)

Indoor and outdoor leisure facilities, including bowling alleys, swimming pools, golf courses and driving ranges, as well as dance studios, stables and riding centres, soft play facilities, climbing walls and climbing centres, archery and shooting ranges, water and theme parks will also have to shut their doors.

Pubs, bars, restaurants and non-essential retail will close and people will be told to stay at home unless they have a specific reason to leave.

How long are they going to stay closed for?

Ms Johnson said will last from Thursday 5 November until 2 December.

This means that gyms and all other sports facilities will remain closed for at least four weeks.

Although Cabinet minister Michael Gove on Sunday added that England’s national lockdown could last longer than four weeks, if the R rate is not successfully brought below 1.0 by the end of the proposed lockdown period.

Why are gyms closing?

The closures of gyms are part of the second lockdown measures to halt the spread of Covid-19 cases as fresh data showed the second wave could be deadlier than the first.

Mr Johnson performed the U-turn after Government scientists presented data which showed that without drastic action, the NHS was on track to run out of capacity by the first week of December – even if all elective procedures are cancelled and Nightingale hospitals are reactivated.

Individuals will still be allowed to exercise outdoors, either on their own, with one person from another household or with their support bubble (Photo: Coralie Datta/Historic England/PA)

It is understood the Prime Minister changed his mind on the merits of going back into lockdown when modellers from the Spi-M subcommittee of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies presented him with figures showing that NHS capacity will be exhausted on 4 December if hospitalisations continue on their current trajectory.

A further 162 people have died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Sunday, while there were 23,254 new lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus, bringing the total number of cases in the UK to 1,034,914.

Exercising outside has been allowed during the lockdown, and will be permitted again under the new rules. Evidence indicates that there is a lower risk of spreading coronavirus outdoors than inside because the higher levels of ventilation disperse viral particles.

But people tend to breathe more heavily than normal while carrying out exercise. This, combined with an indoor environment, could lead to problems.

Gary McLean, a professor in molecular immunology at London Metropolitan University, told i in July: “I think this has something to do with the activity of people within the gym is considered more likely to spread the virus – people are exercising and presumably breathing heavily which would potentially increase the levels of virus in the air.”

Infected people can emit aerosols when they talk and breathe, with the viral particles potentially drifting in the air for up to three hours, according to Harvard Medical School’s Coronavirus Resource Center.

Can I still exercise outdoors?

Yes. Those who still want to work out are permitted to do so outdoors.

In contrast with the first lockdown, individuals will now be able to meet one person from outside their household outdoors, meaning you can exercise with a friend you don’t live with or with your support bubble.

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