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

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Image source, Reuters

Leisure facilities and beauty services in England will be allowed to reopen, 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.

It came as the UK reported the deaths of a further 85 people who tested positive for coronavirus, taking the total number of deaths 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".

"I'm really urging people to get out there and to play their part," he said. "Buy the tickets for outdoor plays and musical recitals, get to your local gallery and support your local businesses."

But the culture secretary warned the measures were conditional and reversible, adding that the government would impose local lockdowns if cases started to spike.

Media caption,
Dowden: 'We need to get the nation match fit to defeat this disease'

What will reopen when?

  • Outdoor pools and outdoor theatres will be able to reopen from Saturday 11 July
  • Grassroots sport will be able to return from this coming weekend, beginning with cricket
  • Beauticians, tattooists, spas, tanning salons and other close-contact services can reopen "subject to some restrictions on particularly high-risk services" from 13 July
  • Indoor gyms, swimming pools and sports facilities can reopen from 25 July
  • 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

Not all forms of beauty treatment will be able to go ahead, as some are deemed too high-risk. These include face waxing, sugaring or threading services, facial treatments, make-up application and eyebrow treatments.

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.

"I'm furious. We can't reopen," she said. "This will kill so many businesses."

Guidance for the reopening of sports facilities has been published, including on 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 and group size rules are followed.

Each sport will have to submit an action plan to the government of how it will operate safely, with sports where a single ball is used having to show how they can reduce the risk of it transmitting the virus.

The government said a team led by England's 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 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 reopening of outdoor productions 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.

In other developments:

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