Response to the Government’s announcement allowing the legal reopening of leisure facilities from Saturday, 25 July, in England

Published on: July 10th 2020

We are delighted with this announcement and we appreciate the hard work of our partners, especially ukactive and Swim England, for spearheading the work to produce the framework and Government guidance to ensure facilities can reopen safely. Community Leisure UK will be working closely with partners, Sport England, ukactive, CIMSPA and others to support the sector to reopen, and we will continue to work with the devolved administrations and our partners in Scotland and Wales so we can successfully achieve the safe reopening of all the 2,727 public leisure facilities across the UK.

Leisure facilities offer a broad range of accessible services that provide for all ages and abilities and play a critical role to reduce inactivity and resolve the nation’s obesity crisis. This announcement will be welcomed by the public who have been waiting patiently to return to their community leisure centres to play sport, enjoy a swim, do an exercise class or visit the gym, all so important to maintaining the physical and mental health and wellbeing of the nation.

To ensure readiness and to protect the longer term viability of leisure services, not all facilities will reopen on 25 July. There will be a phased approach to reopening and access to facilities will be controlled with extensive social distancing and sanitation measures in place to ensure the safety of customers against spreading Covid-19. 

We must not forget that Covid-19 has put the leisure and cultural sector in a critical financial position and so it is important that we continue to work hard with our partners to emphasise to the Government that immediate financial support is required. We know that financial recovery will take a considerable amount of time because income will be compromised by continued social distancing measures and reduced customer confidence levels.

Commenting on the announcement, our Chief Executive Mark Tweedie, said:

“Our members have worked incredibly hard to put in place the robust measures to reopen safely and effectively and they are delighted to have a date to welcome back customers from the communities they serve with passion and care.”

“Half the population use indoor facilities and leisure centres to undertake their regular exercise so this news is important to the majority of the population; it will really help people to build back their physical and mental health after a prolonged lockdown period and will mean some of most vulnerable people in our society can use leisure facilities to build resilience to Coronavirus and to rehabilitate if they are in the recovery phase.”

“We now need to focus attention on the need for ring fenced Government financial support for public leisure services, without which we will see many of our cherished community leisure centres unable to open, and for those that do, many will become unsustainable because of significantly reduced income due to social distancing measures.”