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Many UK fitness venues may not be able to withstand winter covid closures, bosses say | business

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Industry leaders warn that hundreds of gyms and pools will be closed this winter if new post-closure restrictions on the UK are taken into account and forced to remain closed.

Huw Edwards, CEO of ukactive, said the government is considering shutting down gyms and swimming pools in December as part of a trade-off to resume other parts of the economy, such as pubs and restaurants.

The Prime Minister will make a statement setting the new hierarchical system to a potentially stronger top level. Bars and restaurants have demanded weeks of warning about new rules that will come into effect after the UK lockdown ended on Dec. 2.

The UK’s 7,000 gyms, pools and leisure centers wanted to be reclassified as essential services essential to public health. After the petition received more than 600,000 signatures, members of the House of Representatives on Monday are debating the move.

The gym is currently closed in parts of the UK and Scotland and is expected to close in Northern Ireland on Friday. Giving more penalties to the fitness industry would be a political choice, Edwards said, as there is no science to back up the idea that the place is the cause of the infection.

The UK Public Health Department also warned that all breaks for Christmas will be paid later with strict restrictions. The closures in January and February will do more damage to the gym as it is the busiest time for British people to start their New Year’s fitness.

Edwards said having to close again in the new year would be another big blow to businesses. Missing that month would be fatal, and up to 20% of all facilities could be lost if the closure period persists.

About two-thirds of gyms and leisure centers in the UK are privately owned, and 2,116 commission-owned sites are usually run by charity trusts on their behalf. While big chains have been bailed out by big money-making investors, utilities operators who often serve less wealthy communities are struggling.

Last week, the UK’s largest leisure trust GLL, which has more than 270 leisure centers including Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, announced that the Swindon Leisure Center Oasis, which gave its name to one of the UK’s largest bands, was closed. . Other centers, including Preston and Newcastle, have already been closed.

GLL chief executive Mark Sesnan said it used 20 million funds on a rainy day during the first containment period. The oasis center, he said, relied on many people to get through the door. The business model doesn’t work on social streets, and if you close the door it won’t work. The cost cannot be sustained.

Sesnan is concerned that the government will decide that gyms and swimming pools cannot be opened because the industry is considered an easy choice. Public leisure facilities are very fragile, he said. Furlough covers 80% of the cost of our staff, but that’s only half of our cost, and other costs don’t go away. You cannot run your business on fresh air.

The gym group, which went public on the stock exchange and raised $40 million from investors during the first blockade, said it would lose $6 million this month despite plans to shut down.

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Chief executive Richard Darwin said that closing the venue for a relatively short period of time would make it difficult to minimize costs. Being the only PLC, we got a strong balance sheet to be one of the survivors. But if we can see this kind of cash consumption affecting us, we can see what it means for small businesses and the public sector.

For the GLL, when resumption was allowed in the summer, the mood was optimism, and the second lockdown suddenly started.

There is a limit to the resilience of any business, Sesnan said. I don’t think GLL will survive if we end up with on-off closures all winter.

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