Owners of a gym in Tier Three-hit Merseyside are going to refuse the government’s call to shut – saying their members’ mental health and physical wellbeing is important to tackle Coronavirus.
An open letter published online by Chris Ellerby-Hemmings, Thea Holden and their team at EmpoweredFit in Greasby, Wirral, say they should be supported.
The gym bosses say Boris Johnson’s government have ignored studies showing exercise centres have very low transmission risks as well as suicide rates over mental health problems.
It came as the Liverpool City Region became the first area to enter the very high alert level tier, spelling the closure of pubs, bars, betting shops, gyms, leisure centres and casinos.
EmpoweredFit’s message said: ‘We are staying open to our members. The UK’s government has took it upon themselves to close gyms in the North West, despite the overwhelming evidence that gyms are not a major spreaders of COVID.
‘We respected the last lockdown although we financially suffered and only survived because of our amazing members. However they now want us to close, with minimum financial support for six months. We get no rent break, bills break both personally and as a business.
EmpoweredFit owner Chris Ellerby-Hemmings said health and fitness helped beat Covid
EmpoweredFit in Greasby, Wirral, said they were going to stay open for members
The letter said the decision had been taken for the mental and physical health of members
‘We are not staying open for financial gain but more for our members’ mental and physical well-being.
‘Gyms should be supported in fighting against COVID, obesity, mental health and many other conditions and diseases.’
It also flagged September data from the Office for National Statistics that showed male suicide was at a current high, with 16.9 deaths per 100,000.
The letter ended: ‘Joe Anderson, the Mayor of Liverpool has also today, stated he does not agree with the measures the government are enforcing on Merseyside and they did not let him have a say about his region and that the government are “more interested in what they look like, rather than the evidence”.
‘So Joe I ask you to stand with us, stand with our members, our members who have worked the front line throughout who need a place to escape, to turn off and look after both their body and mind.’
Boris Johnson’s government have said Tier Three areas should close places including gyms
The new three tier system is being introduced
In August the gym secured a £100,000 loan for when it came out of lockdown.
Liverpool Business News reported it was taken on to expand their space to allow for more members, in addition to refinancing existing funding.
Fitness industry association UKActive said it was important the health of the nation was improved and vowed to help Liverpool overturn the close order.
CEO Huw Edwards said many gyms had put in new safety measures and regulations to help members in the pandemic.
He added: ‘The national guidance allowing gyms and leisure centres to reopen in July was co-developed and agreed by the lead health representatives in the country, including the Chief Medical Officer’s team, SAGE, PHE, and the Government.
“This guidance has required the sector to deliver the highest levels of safety, across ventilation, sanitisation, social distancing, and member engagement.
“Two months on from reopening, the sector has met this challenge and is delivering safe and secure gyms and leisure centres, for both customers and workforce, showing an extremely low prevalence of COVID-19 in facilities.
“The Government must now commit to working with ukactive and its members as the virus is managed on a devolved and local level, building a structure of consultation and cooperation that delivers local solutions.
“We must avoid what has been announced today in Liverpool, which has seen the unnecessary closure of gyms and leisure centres.
“This decision runs counter to all the evidence provided, threatens permanent closure of facilities and job losses, and will ultimately worsen health inequalities in the region.
“We will work with immediate effect with Liverpool City Council to review this decision, with the aim of overturning it.”