Gyms and indoor leisure centres in England can reopen from April 12 at the earliest, the Government has said.
Fitness facilities can only be visited alone or within household groups and although spas can reopen, saunas and steam-rooms will remain shut until “step three” of the Government’s route out of lockdown.
Gym reopenings come as part of “step two”, which will also see the opening up of all retail, outdoor hospitality, and personal care such as hairdressers and nail salons.
“This step will reopen some sections of our indoor economy and more outdoor settings, restoring jobs and livelihoods and enabling people to access some of the activities and services which are most important to them”, said the Government.
It will come around two weeks after outdoor sports like golf, tennis, basketball courts and swimming pools are allowed to reopen, which is scheduled to take effect from March 29.
The Government added it will update its Covid-secure guidance to advise businesses on improving fresh air flow indoors and carrying out regular testing.
In its road map out of lockdown, the Government said: “Opening outdoor sports settings will help to reduce the adverse physical and mental health effects experienced by large parts of the population, in particular children and those living alone.
“Exercise and outdoor sports are well documented to reduce individuals’ risk of major illnesses, such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and cancer by up to 50% and lower risk of early death by up to 30%.
“Physical activity is also known to help with improving mental health through better sleep, happier moods, and managing stress, anxiety or intrusive and ‘racing’ thoughts.”
From May 17 at the earliest, organised indoor adult sports, such as gym classes, are scheduled to be allowed again.
April 12 is the earliest date indoors gyms can open their doors to the public, but it must come at least five weeks after step one.
Bosses of the UK’s biggest gym chains warned last week that without the announcement of planned reopening, the nation’s physical and mental health could deteriorate.
Chief executive of industry group ukactive Huw Edwards said: “We welcome the news that gyms, pools and leisure centres feature in the earliest stage possible for reopening indoor venues, providing vital clarity for thousands of our members and a long-awaited boost for millions of their customers.
“The decision to reopen fitness and leisure facilities in stage two underlines the role they play in our nation’s social fabric and in supporting the NHS, providing an essential service for the mental and physical health of millions.
“The Government also clearly recognises the sector’s excellent safety record, demonstrated by our regular Covid-19 data reporting, and we will continue to provide these updates throughout the next chapter in the management of the pandemic.
“Furthermore, we will continue to work with the Government and its health agencies to address any outstanding questions they have regarding indoor classes, which are due to reopen in stage three.”