Following details today on the next phases of restrictions being lifted across the country, our Chair Nick Bitel comments on the next steps for the sport and physical activity sector.
“The sport and physical activity sector has been working incredibly hard preparing to reopen leisure, fitness and sports centres, with painstaking measures in place to ensure venues meet public health guidelines," said Nick.
“We understand that difficult choices need to be made as the country exits lockdown, and while it is disappointing for the sector that no specific date has been given for the reopening of facilities today, we will continue to work closely with government to ensure this happens as soon as possible, ideally within the coming weeks, an ambition we know is shared by government.
“These facilities are vital for the health of the nation, with almost 13 million people in England using private and public gyms and leisure centres alone to get active, and these are typically the core venues for indoor community sports such as badminton and basketball – as well as of course the millions of people who go swimming each week.
“It’s important that the government continues to engage with the sector to get these facilities open, not just because activity levels will clearly become a vital public health intervention in the new coronavirus (Covid-19) era, but also because the longer they stay closed, the greater the danger to their ability to survive financially.
“With the first leisure trust collapsing last week in Peterborough, this is a real and growing risk, with public leisure providers a particularly deep concern because so many of those operators provide activities for disadvantaged groups.
“These include those being disproportionately affected by the impact of coronavirus like older adults, women, Black, Asian and minority ethnic people, people from lower socio-economic groups, disabled people and people with long-term health conditions, while public pools are vital for helping young people learn how to swim.
“We are also continuing to work closely with team sports’ national governing bodies to set out a detailed and phased plan for their return, ideally within the coming weeks and welcome confirmation today that outdoor gyms and playgrounds will reopen soon.”