Many UK fitness venues may not survive winter Covid closures, say bosses | Business

Many hundreds of gyms and swimming pools will go out of business this winter if new post-lockdown restrictions being considered for England force them to remain closed, industry leaders have warned.

Huw Edwards, the chief executive of ukactive, said the government was thought to be considering keeping gyms and pools closed as part of a tradeoff for reopening other parts of the economy, such as pubs and restaurants, in December.

The prime minister is due to make a statement on Monday setting out a new system of tiers. The Guardian understands that all the new tiers will allow gyms to remain open, along with non-essential shops, although these exemptions may yet be revisited again if case levels rise steeply.

Pubs and restaurants have demanded a week’s warning of new rules that would kick in after the English lockdown ends on 2 December.

The UK’s 7,000 gyms, pools and leisure centres have sought to be reclassified as essential services vital to public health. The move is being debated by MPs on Monday after a petition attracted more than 600,000 signatures.

Gyms are currently shut in England and parts of Scotland, and are due to close in Northern Ireland on Friday. To further penalise the fitness industry would be a “political choice”, Edwards said as there was “no science” to support the idea that its venues were a source of infection.


Public Health England has also warned that any respite at Christmas would be paid for with tough restrictions afterwards. Shutdowns in January and February would be even more damaging for gyms, as it is their busiest period with Britons undertaking new year fitness regimes.

Edwards said having to shut again in the new year would be another hard blow for businesses. “Missing out on those months would be devastating, and we could end up losing up to 20% of all facilities if there is a sustained period of closure.”

About two-thirds of gyms and leisure centres in England are in private hands, with the 2,116 council-owned sites typically run by charitable trusts on their behalf. While the big chains have been bailed out by deep-pocketed investors, the operators of public facilities, which are often providing services for less affluent communities, are struggling.

Last week, GLL, the UK’s biggest leisure trust, which has more than 270 leisure centres – including the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park venues – on its books, announced that Oasis, the Swindon leisure centre that gave one of the UK’s biggest bands its name, was closing. Other centres, including sites in Preston and Newcastle, have already shut.

Mark Sesnan, the GLL chief executive, said it had used up its £20m rainy-day fund during the first quarantine. The Oasis centre, he said, relied “on getting a lot of people through the door. The business model doesn’t work under social distancing and it doesn’t work when you are shut. The costs are unsustainable.”

Sesnan is worried the government will decide gyms and pools can’t open because it sees the industry as

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Can SF survive the fall COVID-19 surge? UCSF doctor responds

The deadly fall COVID-19 surge health officials have been warning about for months has swept the United States and is being blamed in part on Americans not wearing masks, as well as the onset of cold weather that is forcing people indoors, where the virus can spread more easily.

The average number of new cases per day in the U.S. has soared more than 40% over the past two weeks, from around 49,000 to about 70,000. Deaths per day have climbed from about 700 to almost 800.

So far, San Francisco has steered clear of the surge as the city continues to control the virus with its residents wearing masks, businesses and schools reopening slowly and scientists and politicians collaborating on public health orders.


Can the city survive what some are calling the third wave?

“I’ll go out on a limb and say yes … and hope that I’m not proven wrong,” Dr. Bob Wachter, chair of the Department of Medicine at UCSF, wrote in one of his weekly Twitter threads on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wachter said that he’s hopeful S.F. won’t experience a fall explosion in cases based on how the city has responded to the virus with vigilance since the start of the pandemic, when Mayor London Breed declared a local state of emergency.

“When I walk or drive around SF, I see evidence of why Covid cases & deaths are the lowest of any big city in the U.S. Masking is near universal, Ubers & Lyfts have their windows wide open, & there are pop-up outdoor eating spaces everywhere,” he wrote.

He added, “History is with us: when all of California began to surge in June, SF was able to turn it around – whereas much of the rest of CA didn’t and was hit far harder. Ditto for the southern states.”

Coronavirus cases are spreading across the United States like wildfire, with infections on the rise in every state but Virginia, according to covidexitstrategy.org. Deaths are up in 34 states.

The states seeing the highest rates of newly confirmed infections are mostly in the Midwest and the Plains.

California has seen an uptick in coronavirus-related hospitalizations and intensive care admissions in the past two weeks, prompting renewed warnings Tuesday from Gov. Gavin Newsom and the state’s top health official even as newly confirmed cases remain well below the recent surge across much of the nation.

Statewide, hospitalizations increased 4.7% over the past 14 days and intensive care cases are up 5.9% over the same period. That contrasts with more than a month of double-digit declines in both categories after the state retrenched this summer and

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