Coronavirus: Pools, gyms, team sport and outdoor gigs to return

Lifeguard at Brockwell Lido

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Leisure facilities and beauty services in England will be allowed to reopen over the coming weeks, the government has announced.

Pools, gyms, nail bars and tattooists will be able to open their doors again, and team sports – starting with cricket – will be allowed to resume.

Announcing the changes at a briefing at No 10, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden urged people to “work out to help out”.

Outdoor performances will also be able to resume with limited audiences.

A further 85 deaths have been announced for the 24 hours up to 17:00 BST on 8 July, taking the UK coronavirus deaths total to 44,602.

Mr Dowden said “all the data” was continuing to “move in the right direction” despite the reopening of pubs and restaurants last weekend.

He said normal life was “slowly returning” and that this was an important milestone for the country’s performers and artists, who had been “waiting in the wings since March”.

The public should “do their bit” by buying tickets and supporting galleries and other venues, he said, adding: “I’m really urging people to get out there and to play their part: buy the tickets for outdoor plays and musical recitals, get to your local gallery and support your local businesses.”

But the culture secretary said: “All of these measures are conditional and are reversible”, and warned the government wouldn’t hesitate to impose local lockdowns if cases started to spike.

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Media captionDowden: ‘We need to get the nation match fit to defeat this disease’

What will reopen when?

  • Outdoor pools will be able to re-open from 11 July
  • Indoor gyms, swimming pools and sports facilities can re-open from 25 July
  • Grassroots sport will be able to return from this coming weekend, beginning with cricket
  • Outdoor theatres will be able to start up from Saturday
  • Singing and the playing of brass and wind instruments will be allowed in professional environments and Mr Dowden said specific scientific studies on the risks had been commissioned.
  • Small pilots of indoor performances, with socially distanced audiences, will also take place to help work out the best way for them to restart
  • From 13 July, beauticians, tattooists, spas, tanning salons and other close-contact services can reopen “subject to some restrictions on particularly high-risk services”

Guidance for the reopening of sports facilities, has been published, including cleaning regimes, social distancing and protection for staff.

Measures include limiting the number of people using a facility at one time, reducing class sizes and spacing out equipment. Face coverings will not be mandatory in gyms.

Small numbers of supporters will be able to watch outdoor sports, provided social distancing measures are followed.

The government said a team led by deputy chief medical officer Prof Jonathan Van-Tam had been visiting sports sites to see the sector’s preparations to reopen safely.

When put to him that the restrictions involved in reopening gyms and swimming pools would make exercise “less fun”, Mr Dowden said people would get used to the new measures.

He said: “The judgment we’ve taken with this [pubs] and swimming pools and elsewhere is it is better to reopen with those restrictions than not reopen at all.”

Actors union Equity welcomed the announcement but called for further protection for venues, while Julian Bird, chief executive of the Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre, said more clarity was needed regarding indoor performances.

The announcements follow the government’s pledge of £1.57bn to support the arts industry.

Vanita Parti, chief executive of walk-in beauty chain Blink Brow Bar, said that at first she had welcomed the news but then she received an email from the British Beauty Council telling her no treatments to the face would be allowed.

She said: “I’m furious.

“We can’t reopen. Trimming a man’s beard is acceptable, but not doing a woman’s eyebrows, when both are wearing masks. This will kill so many businesses.”

In other developments: