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Coronavirus: UK Active warns gym & pool closures ‘a major threat’ to nation’s health

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A sign reminds gym users of social distancing protocols as they exercise on the machines at Kensington Leisure Centre in London
UK Active says the fitness and leisure sector will lose about £90m a week because of the national lockdown

The “nation’s health” is under “major threat” after England went into a third lockdown because of coronavirus, a fitness industry trade body has warned.

New measures, including a stay-at-home order as well as the shutdown of fitness centres, were announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday.

UK Active said 7,200 facilities, ranging from gyms to swimming pools, have been forced to close.

The government now “urgently needs” a plan to keep people fit, it added.

Chief executive Huw Edwards said there was a need to “minimise the damaging impact” on the “physical and mental wellbeing” of people who would normally “rely on these Covid-secure facilities to stay strong and healthy”.

The new national lockdown was announced by government on Monday after the UK recorded more than 50,000 new confirmed Covid cases for the seventh day in a row.

In August, following the first national lockdown, figures from the Office for National Statistics suggested twice as many adults in Britain were reporting symptoms of depression compared with the same time in 2019.

UK Active, a non-profit organisation for the physical activity sector with more than 4,000 members, said restrictions will cost the industry about £90m a week.

It also said the wider cost to society, according to data from 4Global,external-link is estimated to be around £7.25m a week. It is a figure calculated by how the fitness industry helps improve healthy living, and contributes to the reduction in a range of conditions, including heart problems, dementia, depression, breast and colon cancers.

“Government must protect this sector as a priority, before it becomes too late,” Edwards added.

“January and February represent a vital period for gyms, pools, and leisure facilities to trade but they currently have zero income, unlike other sectors.”

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