Gym defies restrictions and opens before change to Tier 3 rules

A gym in Huyton has already opened its doors despite the law not changing to allow gyms to reopen until Friday.

Dedicate Fitness in Huyton Business Park announced it would welcome members back from 12pm on Wednesday following the news gyms across Merseyside would be allowed to reopen after changes to Tier 3 rules.

The changes were announced by Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram on Wednesday morning, but do not formally come into effect until 00.01 on Friday.

In a message on the gym’s Facebook page, manager Kort Cooper said: “This is something we are not waiting for, we decided to open at 12 o’clock this afternoon.”

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But Knowsley Council said it expected businesses to comply with current regulations and was investigating the gym's decision.

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The forced closure of gyms in the Liverpool City Region, part of the Tier 3 restrictions introduced last week, has proved controversial as other areas placed in Tier 3 have not been required to close gyms.

Concerns were also raised about the impact on physical and mental health of closing gyms again, while local political leaders made repeated calls for the government to provide evidence that gyms presented a serious risk of coronavirus transmission.

In his video, Mr Cooper added: “We will be having our social distancing in here, we will be having extra cleaning facilities, but we will be opening.

“We don’t want to wait until Friday, we want to do it now.”

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He also thanked people who had campaigned for gyms to be reopened, saying the change was “down to the valiant efforts” of the “few special individuals that really, really, really pushed that message and got this over the line”.

However, Knowsley Council is understood to be investigating the Dedicated Fitness' decision to reopen and an environmental health officer attended the gym on Wednesday afternoon.

A spokesperson for the council said: "We are actively encouraging the leisure sector to comply with the current Covid regulations and for them to prepare for reopening in a Covid-safe manner as soon as the legislation allows.

"Environmental Health Officers have already given guidance to some leisure centres and gyms, and can be contacted by any business owners who have questions.

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"There is a clear expectation that businesses continue to comply with current legislation in order to avoid enforcement measures.”

Other gyms have welcomed the change in the rules, including Body Tech Fitness in Moreton, Wirral, which was fined £1,000 last week for remaining open in defiance of the lockdown rules.

Nick Whitcombe, owner of Body Tech Fitness, appeared close to tears at the news, telling his Instagram followers: “We’ve saved our sector not only in the city region but we’ve saved it across the country.”

Announcing the change on BBC Radio Merseyside on Wednesday morning, Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram said: “On behalf of the leaders and MPs I entered into further talks with 10 Downing Street to highlight the inconsistencies of the measures.

"We've consistently asked for the science behind the suite of measures. Talks continued late into last night and the government have agreed to bring us in line with other Tier 3 areas.

"This means that soft play areas will close, but gyms could reopen."

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