Thank you for contacting me about the closure of gyms and other sports venues during the coronavirus epidemic.
This period is incredibly challenging for us all, and I thank everyone for their efforts in complying with the restrictions that have been brought into force across the country. I know how hard it has been.
From 5 November, as part of the effort to reduce day-to-day contact with other people and thereby reduce the spread of the infection, the Government has ordered certain businesses and venues to close for 28 days. In addition to non-essential retail venues, these do include indoor and outdoor leisure facilities such as gyms, bowling alleys, leisure centres, sports facilities including tennis clubs, swimming pools, golf courses and driving ranges, dance studios, stables and riding centres, soft play facilities, climbing walls and climbing centres, archery and shooting ranges, water and theme parks.
I can understand your frustration that these facilities have been ordered to close, particularly in view of the efforts they have made to improve their safety. I also fully appreciate the vital contribution they make to exercise and both physical and mental health. I have to tell you, however, that the basic purpose of these closures is to reduce contact between people in order to curtail infection. Ministers have taken the view that this could not be achieved by making exceptions, no matter how attractive they might appear. The focus now must be on preventing infection so that restrictions can be lifted.
People will still be able to leave home to exercise outdoors or visit an outdoor public place. This can be done with the people you live with, with your support bubble or, when on your own, with one person from another household. Subject to these restrictions, there is no limit to how much exercise people can take.
I fully appreciate the impact that these closures will have on gyms, sports facilities and clubs. That is why I welcome the measures the Government has set out to support employers to retain workers even if they cannot afford to pay them, so that they can continue to work where they can and be paid at least 80 per cent of their salaries up to a maximum of £2,500 per month.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.