UK Parliament will debate COVID-19 restrictions on gyms and leisure centres on Monday 23 November, it has been confirmed.
The session, which takes place at 4.30pm GMT, can only be attended by 15 MPs due to social distancing measures.
The debate comes as off-the-record briefings from government indicate that gyms may be hit with a new third lockdown in January to "pay back" a loosening of restrictions over the Christmas period.
Industry leaders say closing gyms in January – a critical month for membership sales – would 'devastate' the sector and any such move could see operators finally being forced to take legal action against the government.
Up to this point, the sector has been committed to working in partnership with government departments, but if operators are faced with a third lockdown in January, in spite of having proven they are COVID-secure, HCM understands this may be the tipping point that would drive them to go legal.
Industry body, ukactive, is encouraging all its members to write a letter to their local MPs, asking for them to support the debate on Monday to avert a third lockdown and to back any motions made to keep gyms and leisure centres open as an essential service.
MPs have until 1pm on Friday 20 November to register to attend the debate. It is hoped that as many MPs as possible – out of the total of 15 – will be sympathetic to the motion, which is the result of a successful Parliamentary petition which now has 604,000 signatures. It is one of 12 Parliamentary petitions running, all set up by members of the public, calling for gyms to remain open, with this being the one with the most votes.
To support efforts to ensure gyms stay open, HCM
is publishing the letter sent out by ukactive to its members, below.
If you have not already sent this letter to your MP, now is the time to do so. Please act now.
To check who your MP is – and to find out all the necessary details you need to get in touch with their office – click here.Good morning,
I am a constituent and writing to call for your support in the upcoming Westminster Hall Debate on 23rd November on the petition to keep gyms and leisure centres open during any further restrictions.
The physical activity sector has a hugely important role in the physical and mental wellbeing of your constituents as well as being crucial to the country’s recovery from Covid-19.
The Government has consistently stressed the importance of exercise throughout this pandemic, maintaining it as an essential reason to leave the house in the most severe lockdown, and continuing to stress its importance in this second phase. However, during the winter months, outdoor activity becomes less appealing and more dangerous, making it imperative there is a safe space to exercise.
Sport England’s Active Lives Survey reported three million more inactive individuals in the first lockdown period compared to the same period in 2019. This number is likely to be even greater during the winter, with a devastating impact on health and wellbeing, if our facility is not able to reopen.
Gyms and leisure facilities have proven since reopening they are safe, with the hygiene, ventilation, and social distancing measures within facilities, drawn up in conjunction with the Government, have ensured this low prevalence rate. The Government has so far provided no evidence to justify the closure of these facilities.
With the prospect of continued restrictions on a national and local level for the foreseeable future, it is vital the physical activity sector is recognised as safe and essential and is able to remain open.
I would urge you to ensure your constituents’ health and wellbeing are protected by attending Monday’s debate.