Boris Johnson advises that gyms and many other indoor leisure venues to remain closed

Boris Johnson confirms that indoor gyms and leisure centres across England to remain closed.

Boris Johnson has this afternoon confirmed that indoor leisure venues, including gyms, are to remain closed. Indoor hospitality venues such as restaurants and pubs will reopen on July 4th 2020 but leisure venues such as nightclubs, indoor play areas including soft-play, indoor fitness and dance studios, swimming pools and other indoor sports venues/facilities remain closed for the time being.

Group outdoor exercise

Guidance remains the same for exercising outdoors with a limit of six people and so long as they remain two metres apart.

Close proximity venues

During his speech Boris Johnson used the phrase ‘close proximity venues’ to characterise the indoor leisure facilities that remain closed. Of course a restaurant is a ‘close proximity venue’ so I believe the present concern is also around the physical intensity of a gym visit where respiration rate (breathes per minute) is raised in the majority of gym users. We can more easily picture this by referring to the revised Borg Perceived Rate of Exertion Scale below:

The Revised Borg Perceived Rate of Exertion Scale rates how hard exercise is on a scale of 1 to 10 where one is very light and 10 is extremely hard.

The Revised ‘Borg Perceived Rate of Exertion Scale’ rates how physical activity is on a scale of 1 to 10.

It seems clear that the UK government and its scientific advisors presently remain unpersuaded by the idea that indoor gyms can effectively deliver a COVID-secure environment while the estimated R (reproduction) rate for the UK remains at 0.7-0.9. However, Johnson did also make it clear that restrictions cannot all be lifted simultaneously.

Note

The full list of businesses which have not been given permission to reopen on July 4th, 2020 because they have been “assessed that they cannot yet be made sufficiently COVID-19 secure” are:

  • Bowling alleys and indoor skating rinks
  • Casinos
  • Exhibition or conference centres – where they are to be used for exhibitions or conferences, other than for those who work for that venue.
  • Indoor play areas including soft-play
  • Indoor fitness and dance studios, and indoor gyms and sports venues/facilities
  • Nail bars, beauty salons and tanning salons
  • Nightclubs
  • Massage, tattoo and piercing parlours
  • Spas
  • Swimming pools and water parks.