It feels like lockdown has lasted forever, but now things are beginning to open up, with non-essential shops welcoming customers, and pubs and restaurants set to do the same from this weekend. But it's been a long time to go without some of our most prized extra-curricular activities, like the gym, so many people are itching to find out when gyms will be reopening following the coronavirus crisis.
And this morning, Boris Johnson gave the first proper timeframe in which we can expect to have gyms back in our lives. Speaking on radio station LBC, the Prime Minister said gyms should be able to open their doors in "a couple of weeks". Hooray!
"We are going to reopen gyms as soon as we can do it in a COVID-secure way and I think that the date for reopening gyms at the moment, if we can do it, is in just a couple of weeks' time," said Boris.
The government is following a roadmap for how it will ease lockdown measures, that was roughly laid out in a 50-page document released a few weeks ago. Setting out their plans, the government said: "While reopening outdoor spaces and activities (subject to continued social distancing) comes earlier in the roadmap because the risk of transmission outdoors is significantly lower, it is likely that reopening indoor public spaces and leisure facilities (such as gyms and cinemas)... may only be fully possible significantly later depending on the reduction in numbers of infections."
That estimation has been proven to be true, as gyms won't open tomorrow along with pubs, restaurants, hairdressers, leisure facilities, tourist attractions, hotels and B&Bs. Instead, it seems we'll have to wait another fortnight or so to gain access to those beloved gym floors.
The reason there's a delay in gyms reopening is because they have been deemed a "close proximity venue" - along with nightclubs, soft play areas, swimming pools, spas, bowling alleys and water parks. The government does not feel we are in a position yet where it's safe enough for them to welcome customers quite yet, meaning they will remain closed for another few weeks.
In his previous announcement about easing lockdown significantly on July 4, Johnson confirmed that task forces were being set up to help those place open up as soon as possible. So it seems those are already taking action.
Pubs and restaurants must adhere to a strict set of standards when they reopen their doors on 4 July, which means gyms will likely be subject to the same when they're finally allowed to welcome members once more. PT and CEO of GearJunkie, Sean McCoy, predicted that we'll see some fairly dramatic changes to our gyms when they do eventually reopen, like having no access to changing rooms or lockers, temperatures being measured at the door, a lot less equipment, and having to book just to use the gym floor.
PureGym in the UK has unveiled its specific plans for reopening its branches, which includes boxes to be marked out within the floor space, so that gym-goers can clearly see where they are to stay within whilst they exercise; staff cleaning kit and surfaces throughout the day (with a deep clean every night); gym-goers wiping down equipment and machines both before and after use; and contactless entry.
Or, you might get some more extreme measures like this gym in California, which has installed individual PVC pods for its members to work out in.
As Dr Ravi Tomar, a GP at Portland Medical, explained to Cosmopolitan previously, gyms must be especially cautious about preventing transmission of coronavirus. "Viruses can live on a surface outside the human body for several hours, [so] gym equipment is a prime culprit for picking up an illness," he said.
While you'd hope that, when gyms do reopen, nobody who's feeling under-the-weather would go, you can't guarantee that would be the case.
"Unfortunately, many people do insist on pushing through for the sake of a workout, unwittingly exposing others to their germs," said the GP. And in an environment like the gym, that spells trouble. "Coughs and sneezes can spread droplets much further than you might think (up to 8 metres) and those droplets can remain in the air a good while afterwards," he said.
"Depending on whether the person before you has coughed onto their hands or worse, sneezed into the air, there can be moisture droplets containing a virus on anything from free-weights to elliptical handles or the buttons on the treadmill," Dr Tomar warned
The information in this story is accurate as of the publication date. While we are attempting to keep our content as up-to-date as possible, the situation surrounding the coronavirus pandemic continues to develop rapidly, so it's possible that some information and recommendations may have changed since publishing. For any concerns and latest advice, visit the World Health Organisation. If you're in the UK, the National Health Service can also provide useful information and support, while US users can contact the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
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