Everything we know so far about when gyms could reopen in England
Gyms have not been able to open at all this year, after they were forced to close as part of the fresh nationwide lockdown in January.
People have resorted to working out from home or outside while they wait for fitness and leisure centres to reopen.
Boris Johnson is expected to outline his roadmap out of lockdown on 22 February, during which he will set out potential dates for some businesses to welcome back customers.
So, will gyms be included in the roadmap? Here is everything we know so far.
When will gyms reopen?
The prime minister’s highly anticipated lockdown exit strategy will outline the gradual easing of restrictions in England.
This roadmap will detail plans for the reopening of schools but also for opening up the economy and getting “our lives back to as close to normal as possible”, Boris Johnson said.
Mr Johnson’s phased strategy for easing Covid-19 measures will be presented in three stages, according to the i paper.
The prime minister has repeatedly said that the government’s priority is to open schools, and classrooms could welcome pupils back on 8 March.
If the R number remains low after schools return, the second stage would be to open up non-essential shops, a government official reportedly told the i.
After that, hospitality businesses could open by Good Friday on 2 April, including hotels, restaurants and pubs, the source said.
However, there is not yet any mention of when gyms and exercise facilities could open their doors again.
It is safe to assume that this will happen some time after pupils return to school in March.
Whether restrictions can be eased will also depend on data including infection rates, death rates and how the vaccine rollout is progressing.
The government is awaiting key information on whether vaccines reduce community transmission of the virus before plans are finalised.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock told BBC Breakfast: “We are taking those decisions this week, so we will be looking at the data, looking at the success of the vaccine rollout and how far that has reached and its impact in terms of protecting people, looking at the number of cases and critically, looking at the number of people who are in hospital and the number of deaths – those two factors are vital.
“Right now, as of today, at the latest count there are still over 23,000 people in hospital with Covid – that’s more than in the April peak – so we’ve still got some way to go, but we are looking to set out that road map on Monday.”
Could gyms reopen at the same time?
When gyms are permitted to reopen, it is likely that this will happen at the same time across the country, as Boris Johnson is reportedly not looking to return to the tier system that was in place before the lockdown.
According to the i, restrictions will be eased nationally this time around, with scientists believing that the tier system did little to prevent transmission of coronavirus.
In Tier 4 areas, gyms were told to shut completely, while in Tier 3 areas they were permitted to remain open but group exercise, like spin and yoga classes, was banned.
Gym owners and athletes had previously accused ministers of “ignoring the science” by closing gyms during the tier system.
They claimed not allowing people to visit fitness centres would damage their physical and mental health.
Will there be rules when gyms reopen?
Gym goers will undoubtedly need to follow certain rules when fitness centres are permitted to open their doors once more.
Throughout the tier system, this was in the form of reduced class sizes and one-way systems, but face coverings were not mandatory.
As the government is concerned about the new variants of coronavirus spreading, tighter hygiene rules could be put in place when gyms reopen.
What are the current lockdown exercise rules?
During the national lockdown, outdoor exercise is limited to once a day.
You can exercise with your household or bubble, or with one other person from another household, and you should stay in your local area for exercise.
Sports venues, including pools, gyms, tennis courts and golf courses, are closed, but playgrounds can stay open.
Amateur team sports are not allowed, but elite sport can continue.