The UK government has given the go-ahead for one-to-one personal training outdoors, as part of the first stage of plans to ease COVID-19 lockdown measures.
A 50-page document published today (11 May), called Our plan to rebuild: the UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy, provides details on a three-step road map, which looks to gradually ease restrictions in England.
The government’s science taskforce, SAGE, has deemed that the risk of infection outside is significantly lower than inside – leading to the updating of rules on exercise.
A significant change, as part of Step 1, is that people can now exercise with up to one person from outside their household – which opens an opportunity for one-to-one personal training.
All interactions must adhere to social distancing guidelines, with a two-metre distance maintained at all times.
People can also now exercise outside as many times a day as they wish.
Areas such as playgrounds, outdoor gyms and ticketed outdoor leisure venues will remain closed, as they’re deemed to be higher risk.
There’s no change to the current position in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales – so this Step 1 measure will only affect England.
Step 2 will see primary schools returning, along with non-essential retail. This is expected to take effect on 1 June.
The next step to affect the UK’s fitness, sport and physical activity sector – Step 3 – will see the reopening of the rest of the leisure industry – from gyms and spas to the hospitality sector (including pubs restaurants and hotels).
Operators will, however, need to adhere to the government’s COVID-19 Secure guidelines during Step 3, such as cleaning and social distancing.
There’s no official timescale for the move to Step 3, but the report says: “It’s likely that reopening indoor public spaces and leisure facilities, such as gyms and cinemas, premises whose core purpose is social interaction (such as nightclubs), venues that attract large crowds (like sports stadia), and personal care establishments where close contact is inherent (such as beauty salons) may only be fully possible ‘significantly later’, depending on the reduction in numbers of infections.”
The report includes the assumption that Step 3 will not happen any earlier than 4 July, saying: “The ambition at this step is to open at least some of the remaining businesses and premises that have been required to close, including personal care (such as hairdressers and beauty salons) hospitality (such as food service providers, pubs and accommodation), public places (such as places of worship) and leisure facilities (like cinemas).”
“Initially, the gap between steps will need to be several weeks,” explains the report, “To allow sufficient time for monitoring. However, as the national monitoring systems become more precise and larger-scale, enabling a quicker assessment of the changes, this response time may reduce.”
Gyms are not mentioned specifically in relation to reopening in Stage 3, however it says: “Some venues…where it may prove difficult to enact distancing may still not be able to re-open safely at this point or may be able to open safely only in part. Nevertheless, the Government will wish to open as many businesses and public places as the data and information at the time allows.”
It appears there will be room for stakeholder lobbying and government collaboration, as the report says: “In order to facilitate the fastest possible re-opening of these types of higher-risk businesses and public places, the Government will carefully phase and pilot re-openings to test their ability to adopt the new COVID-19 Secure guidelines.”
International successes will also be factored in as the report explains, saying: “The Government will monitor carefully the effects of reopening other similar establishments elsewhere in the world, as this happens and will establish a series of taskforces to work closely with stakeholders in these sectors to develop ways in which they can make these businesses and public places COVID-19-secure.
“The precise timetable for these adjustments will depend on the infection risk and the effectiveness of Government’s mitigation measures such as contact tracing,” it says.
Changes are also likely to be regional, with some areas opening before others. “The Government may adjust restrictions in some regions before others,” says the report, ” a greater risk in Cornwall should not lead to disproportionate restrictions in Newcastle if the risk is lower.”
To download and read Our plan to rebuild: The UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy, click here.