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‘Bitter pill to swallow’ as gyms must remain closed

PUBLISHED: 19:00 27 June 2020

Jack Cardy and his wife Connie opened Live Fit Gym in Manningtree last summer. Picture: JACK CARDY

Jack Cardy and his wife Connie opened Live Fit Gym in Manningtree last summer. Picture: JACK CARDY

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Gym owners are still pinning their hopes on a July reopening in the wake of the announcement they must stay closed even when pubs open their doors on ‘Super Saturday’.

Suffolk Strength Academy is committed to ensuring their members can do as much as they can during the outbreak. Picture: SUFFOLK STRENGTH ACADEMYSuffolk Strength Academy is committed to ensuring their members can do as much as they can during the outbreak. Picture: SUFFOLK STRENGTH ACADEMY

Many had been preparing to reopen on July 4 after being closed for months and had started recalling equipment they had loaned out to members, installing infection control devices and putting hours into assessing all the risks.

But the industry was dealt another blow this week when Boris Johnson said gyms and leisure centres could not reopen on what is being dubbed ‘Super Saturday’ - the day pubs, cinemas, pubs, bingo halls and hair salons reopen to the public for the first time since March.

MORE: ‘It’s good but scary’ - Pubs to reopen across Suffolk from July 4

Ben Gray owns the Suffolk Strength Academy in Ipswich. Picture: SUFFOLK STRENGTH ACADEMYBen Gray owns the Suffolk Strength Academy in Ipswich. Picture: SUFFOLK STRENGTH ACADEMY

Ben Gray, owner of the Suffolk Strength Academy based in Ipswich, said; “We are trying not to get too frustrated about it but I don’t get some of the decisions the Government are making at the moment.

“I don’t have all of the information to hand but there do seem to be some myths about gyms.

“We aren’t dirty, we clean all the time and did so before Covid.

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“Germs can stay on the surfaces of machines, but they are very easy to clean.”

Outdoor gyms are allowed to reopen and boot camp-style classes of up to five people can take place outside but for many gyms this still limits their income.

“We wouldn’t have survived without our members,” Mr Gray added.

“The government assistance has helped a lot but now we are chomping at the bit to get back now.”

Live Fit Gym in Manningtree only opened last summer and owner Jack Cardy is disappointed that after a successful first year the business won’t be allowed to open next week.

“It is a bitter pill to swallow,” he admitted. “It has been mixed messaging which is tough.

“I completely understand the government need to get the economy going, but for them not to open us alongside pubs and other places is difficult.”

Mr Cardy pointed out that pubs bring in more tax revenue for the government than gyms do.

A spokesman for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport said: “We are continuing to work with representatives from the gym and leisure centre sectors on plans for a safe, phased reopening with the ambition for this to happen from mid-July, subject to public health guidance.”

MORE: Pub group boss toasts ‘news we’ve all been waiting for’ as UK eases slowly out of lockdown


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