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Gyms Are Reopening in the UK – Here's What You Need to Know

By Neesha Kanaga

Published 9 April 2021

On 22 February, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled the country’s ‘roadmap to recovery’ as part of its phase-by-phase exit strategy. As part of this roadmap, gyms in England were set to reopen on Monday 12 April.

This roadmap, or exit strategy, is a four-step plan that could see England to something akin to pre-pandemic life no earlier than 21 June – which, according to the Independent, would consist of five weeks between each step.

As part of England’s gym reopening plan, the government has prioritized outdoor exercise over the reopening of gyms and indoor fitness facilities.

“Outdoor activity will be prioritized as the best way to restore freedoms while minimizing the risk.” – Prime Minister Boris Johnson

However, the government has unequivocally stated that gyms will reopen on Monday 12 April, if all the criteria are met. The dates for reopening in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales are subject to local discretion as the situation is being continually monitored.

Read on to find out the conditions for outdoor sports, gym reopening rules in the UK, what phases are gyms reopening – and what will gym reopening look like as a whole.

Further reading: A checklist for reopening your fitness centre

COVID-19 Rules for Outdoor Sports in England

At the moment, outdoor sports for adults are already allowed in England as long as the following conditions are met:

  • Organized team sports and outdoor swimming pools are open to the public from 29 March.
  • Outdoor sports including football, golf and tennis will be allowed to resume in England from 29 March.
  • Outdoor skating rinks and outdoor trampolining parks will remain closed until 12 April.
  • Minimal use of changing rooms.

There has been a huge push by both the gym industry and the mental health industry to reopen outdoor sports.  To quote Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden:

“Sport and physical activity will be at the heart of our national recovery and today marks a really important step forward” – Oliver Dowden

The rules for outdoor sports in the UK are:

  • Outdoor sport for all ages is permitted with any number of participants if it is organized by a national governing body, business, or charity.
  • If not formally organized, outdoor sports can only take place in groups of up to six people – or two households.
  • Participants should maintain social distancing when not actively participating.
  • When not actively participating, you must separate into distinct groups consisting of up to six people or two households.
  • Personal training is allowed to take place outdoors.
  • Face masks are not mandatory.

Indoor Gym Reopening Rules in England

Indoor fitness centers in England are set to reopen on April 12 if tests for easing lockdown are met.

This means that anything with a roof over its head, including gyms, fitness studios leisure centers, sports courts, dance studios, and climbing walls, swimming pools, as well as multi-sport facilities (driving ranges, archery venues, etc.) can expect to reopen in England on 12 April.

The gym reopening rules in England are:

  • Leisure centers, gyms, and swimming pools can open from 12 April.
  • Clients can only visit gyms alone.
  • Clients may also visit gyms with members of the same household.
  • Social distancing is mandatory in facilities.

* At the moment, there is no information on mask usage.

Further reading: Everything you need to know about keeping your gym safe during the reopening process.

In What Phases Are Gyms Reopening in the UK

As gyms are reopening in England, the rest of the UK will follow suit. Throughout the country, there have been several ‘indicative timetables for the re-opening of the economy in Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales as the pandemic slowly wanes thanks to mass inoculation.

In fact, as of the end of March, 345 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered worldwide in just three months since mass inoculation began in December. So, we’d venture as far as to say that things are looking up.

When Are Gyms Reopening in Scotland?

First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, stated:

On [26 April]… our expectation is that indoor gyms will also reopen for individual exercise. – Nicola Sturgeon

According to Scotland’s roadmap to recovery, gyms have been scheduled to reopen from 26 April for individual exercise. Indoor group exercise may resume from 17 May.

Outdoor non-contact sports in groups of up to 15 people have been allowed in Scotland since 12 March.

When Are Gyms Reopening in Wales?

Things are looking up for Wales, as the date for reopening gyms has been brought forward a week. The local government will continually monitor the spread of COVID-19 and when considering the definitive date for reopening Welsh gyms. As of now, this date is set to be 3 May.

The conditions for Welsh gyms reopening are:

  • Gyms and leisure centers will be able to open from 3 May.
  • On 3 May, two households can bubble up to meet indoors.
  • Personal training will be allowed on 3 May.
  • Group classes are still not allowed.

When Are Gyms Reopening in Northern Ireland?

Unfortunately, no information about gym reopenings in Northern Ireland has been made available yet.

The stay-at-home order is still strictly in effect, with much of the economy still closed. As it stands now, the conditions for sports during COVID-19 in Northern Ireland are as follows:

  • All gyms are closed – outdoor and indoor.
  • All indoor sport is still banned except for elite athletes.
  • Individual outdoor exercise is allowed.

Due to the unpredictability of the pandemic, news about reopening can change quickly and vary from country to country. Please use the following resources to stay up to date on COVID-19 and gym closures in the UK:

Looking for some no-nonsense tips on how to reopen your gym safely? Check out our scientific approach to good ventilation in gyms.

Neesha Kanaga

Neesha is a copywriter and wanderer who currently finds herself bound to the weather-challenged Netherlands due to the unforeseen circumstances of 2020.

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