Mersey gyms to reopen after Number 10 u-turn

Gyms across Liverpool city region had closed under Tier 3 COVID-19 measures but, following talks between Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram and the Government, the decision is being reversed. Tony McDonough reports

Gym, fitness, working out, workout, exercise
Gyms in the Liverpool city region will be allowed to reopen


Gyms and leisure centres across Liverpool city region will be able to reopen after. Government u-turn on Tier 3 COVID-19 restrictions.

On October 14, Liverpool, Wirral, Sefton, Knowsley, St Helens and Halton were placed into Tier 3 mind soaring COVID cases and hospitalisations. This meant the closure of pubs, betting, shops, adult gaming centres and gyms.

This provoked a storm of protest from gyms and health clubs in the city region who insisted their facilities were safe. The anger intensified when it was revealed that Greater Manchester Lancashire were to be placed under Tier 3 – with gyms allowed to stay open.

Now, after talks between Number 10 Downing Street and Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram, the Government has agreed to lift the restrictions. Mr Rotheram had demanded the Government release scientific evidence to justify the closure of gyms.

A statement issued by Mr Rotheram, and on behalf of the six local authority leaders, said: “Collectively we have consistently requested the scientific evidence that supported the imposition of the suite of measures under Tier 3. And we have pointed out the inconsistencies of approach following the announcement that Lancashire would not have exactly the same package of restrictions.

“Talks continued until late last night – and the Government have agreed with the case that I put forward  – that they would now bring us in line with other Tier 3 area – so that (like Lancashire and Greater Manchester) – soft play areas would be closed – but that gyms could reopen.

“I argued that gyms in the Liverpool city region were no less safe than those in Lancashire – that had been allowed to remain open. I also convinced them that – as we now had local test and tracing (and had been chosen as a pilot area to trial new test technologies) – we could manage the safety of gym users as well as anywhere in the country.

Gym, fitness, working out, workout, exercise
Gyms had initially been closed under Tier 3 COVID restrictions


“The Government will now include the provision to rescind their original decision – when they lay the legislation before Parliament tomorrow (Thursday) – on the orders for Greater Manchester.”

Evidence did emerge earlier in the pandemic of a risk associated with exercise classes and gyms. A peer-reviewed study looked at fitness classes in Japan and South Korea and found the type of breathing association with intense exercise could increase the volume of droplets people expel.

California-based Dr Krutika Kuppalli, a global specialist in emerging infections, said: “Biggest concern is that while working out people breathe with greater intensity and therefore droplets with infectious virus can be transmitted further and infect people in this confined space.

“It’s very difficult to wear a mask when you work out. So when you do, you are breathing with greater intensity and therefore those droplets with potentially infectious virus that people can inhale.”

The u-turn will come as a relief to gyms and leisure centres across the city region. Earlier this week, one city centre business, Crew 42, said the initial decision to close gym was “crazy”. It added: “We take social distancing and cleanliness extremely seriously.

“More than our business is at stake here, it’s our clients mental and physical health that is also at stake. We completely respect the Government and their attempts to combat this pandemic. We value the NHS and cannot thank them for that they have been doing for the nation. We believe a healthy lifestyle will help people stay mentally strong and give them a greater chance of fighting and respiratory decease or illness.”

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