itness industry bosses have called for additional sector-specific support and attacked the Government’s approach to the leisure industry as “a disgrace” as the new lockdown came into force.
Under the latest Covid-19 restrictions implemented on Thursday, hairdressers, beauty businesses and gyms were classified as “non-essential” services alongside segments of retail and required to close until December 2.
Any business which defies the rules could be fined up to £10,000.
The Standard spoke to some of London’s fitness industry leaders, who said they are furious the Government chose to close them down.
They said that many gyms will not be able to survive the shutdown, and argued fitness centres that have put in place measures to ensure they are Covid-secure should be allowed to remain open to help the nation stay mentally and physically healthy.
It comes amid reports that some gyms around the country have even vowed to stay open, risking the £10,000 fine.
Colin Waggett, chief executive of luxury gym group Third Space – which has more than 20,000 members across its six London gyms – said the group had lost several million pounds since March, and that the new lockdown will see losses extended further.
Waggett is calling on the Government to offer the fitness industry the same VAT relief offered to the hospitality sector.
He said: “Their cost base is very similar to ours.
“We simply do not understand given all of our earlier comments why that support has not been made available for our sector too.
“We are now going to need the rent moratorium extended again, rates relief extended beyond the end of March and the same VAT relief that hospitality has had throughout 2021, so we can all clear the huge debts we have accumulated and get back on our feet.
“The alternative is a wave of closures, job losses, and a loss of much loved and needed gyms and studios for the population of London.”
Sandy Macaskill, founder of bootcamp specialist Barry’s UK, concurred with his fellow gym boss.
He said that “most gyms made zero revenue for over four months” during the first lockdown, and that despite Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s extension of the furlough scheme to March 31, he knows many will be financially devastated by the latest restrictions.
“We can’t do takeaways,” he said. “The government’s approach to the leisure industry has been a disgrace from the outset.
“While on the one hand Boris Johnson has spoken about the importance of staying fit in fighting the virus, the Government have repeatedly insulted the sector, first by reopening pubs before gyms, then by reducing VAT on fast food joints with no [specific] relief for our industry.”
Several gym operators argued that since reopening over the summer gyms have not been found to be behind significant
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