GYMS have been told they must stay shut until autumn at the earliest after Government officials deemed them one of the worst places for spreading coronavirus.
Government scientists are understood to have grouped them with bars and restaurants, which will be among the last venues to reopen. More pessimistic forecasts within government have even predicted that gyms won’t reopen this year.
An industry source in talks with the Government said: “Six months is a reasonable timeframe.”
Whitehall officials who have been working with industry bodies on plans to reopen workplaces have concluded that like bars and restaurants, gyms are a “hotbed of infection”.
A source who has been involved in extensive talks with government officials over the ‘Back to Work’ plans said: “Gyms won’t be open any time soon. It won’t be sooner than autumn.”
Another of those involved in the planning said: “One way systems don’t work in gyms as people don’t use the equipment in order like aisles in Tesco.
“They are in close proximity in the wet environment of changing rooms, while exercise means lots of sweat and huffing and puffing in close quarters.”
But some gyms have urged the Government to allow them to open for personal trainers and their clients. They have argued this could work because gyms could operate in a much more controlled environment where personal trainers could keep two metres away from their clients but also clean equipment after every use.
The Treasury is understood to be working on plans to extend its wage support scheme for the specific sectors that are told to stay shut.
That could see gym employees kept on some form of the taxpayer-funded job retention scheme, which currently pays 80 per cent of wages for workers who have been furloughed by their employer.
The current scheme is currently due to end in June but Chancellor Rishi Sunak has assured employers that they will not face a “cliff-edge”.
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