Gyms, leisure centres and five-a-side games set to return from start of July, Culture Sec confirms


GYMS and leisure centres could open and five-a-side footie matches may be allowed from the start of July, the Culture Secretary said tonight.

Oliver Dowden said that grassroots sport would be part of the next stage of the nation’s coronavirus recovery in the coming weeks.

Gyms moved a step closer to being able to reopen tonight

Gym bunnies will be able to get back to their weights and yoga classes soon, and football fans allowed a kickabout with friends, Mr Dowden said.

He told the daily Downing Street briefing tonight: “Sports recovery is never just about elite sports.

“I know people are itching to get back to their gyms, their leisure centres, their five aside leagues…. And all the normal fitness activities.

“So we are working closely to get grassroots and community sport back and up running as soon as it’s safe to so – with an aim at the start of July at the very earliest.”

Gyms are part of step three of the Government’s roadmap for getting the country back up and running again.

That puts it on par with restaurants and hotels, which are also set to return and open their doors to customers from the start of next month.

But many are worried about how they will keep to the 2m rule in such close and confined spaces.

The PM has indicated it could be cut when the number of infections comes down low enough.

The Government has yet to confirm whether the hospitality sector will definitely be able to return from the proposed date of July 4.

Oliver Dowden confirmed the news this evening


It came as he said he hoped that football fans could be back in stadiums by the start of the new season – in September.

As the Premier League returns to TV screens tonight, he said there were “intensive discussions” on getting fans into stadiums by next season, which is expected to start in September.

Mr Dowden told the daily press briefing: “By the return of the new season, we might be in a position whereby some fans could start to return to stadiums.”

” (We are doing) intensive engagement (and discussions) on how we could get that done safely.

“Clearly we will look at positioning of fans, where they are relative to each other but there’s all the issue about how you get in and out of stadiums in a safe way, and how you have access to conveniences and everything else.”

But Mr Dowden warned that in the meantime fans needed to watch from home or else risk spreading coronavirus.

Aston Villa will take on Sheffield United tonight, followed by Manchester City vs Arsenal.

He said: “Please look after your fellow fans and communities by watching from home – to keep the home advantage, support from home.

“There is nothing to be gained from congregating outside stadiums except to put at risk public heath.”


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