In breaking news, HCM
understands the UK government has removed gyms and fitness facilities from the baseline measures for future tier 3 closures.
This means that gyms and leisure centres will no longer be forced to automatically close in areas deemed "very high risk" (or tier 3) in the government's three-tier COVID-19 alert system.
The move comes after it was revealed that the gym closures in the first area to be classified as tier 3 – Liverpool – were agreed specifically for that city, but that gyms had then wrongly been included in the "baseline list" for all further tier 3 actions.
An updated version of the regulations for tier 3 has now been created and removed gyms from the baseline measures, by taking them off the list (in paragraph 19(4).
Gym closures will, however, still apply in the Liverpool area, as originally announced.
The government still retains the power to add gyms on the list of businesses to close in any area classed as tier 3, but this would be done following consultation with – and where possible, agreement with – local authorities.
The "clerical error" in the drafting of tier 3 baseline measures is the latest mix up in the government's crisis-ridden dealings with COVID-19 restrictions.
It is also unclear why it has taken the government more than a week to correct the perception that gyms should automatically close at tier 3.
That misperception led to gym operators threatening to take legal action against the government.
to defend the industry.
HCM editor, Liz Terry, said: "It's good news that we now have clarity on the tier 3 baseline measures and grateful thanks go to industry leaders who have been lobbying hard for clarity on this.
"Now it's time to move to position the gym industry in its rightful place.
"We are a highly professional sector, operating regulated
environments and we have clear and compelling evidence to prove we can operate with no community transmission.
"Gyms are not where transmisison is happening – this is happening in unregulated
environments, such as homes and social settings.
"We need to lobby to be recognised as offering regulated
environments – the language around this is very important.
"Looking at the wider picture, the health service has two primary priorities – prevention and protection.
"Gyms are acknowledged as contributing to prevention
, but we are not currently seen as having any part to play in protection
"Due to the pandemic, protection is the current priority for the NHS and directors of public health, and so this is leaving us on the sidelines, when we should be a major player.
"This is because, as it's clear that as regulated environments, gyms can support in relation to both prevention AND protection.
"HCM believes the industry needs to lobby to be 'reclassified' as delivering regulated environments
that can contribute to prevention
"Only then, will we be in a position where our mission is truly recognised and our future is aligned with our purpose."