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The owners of a gym in Merseyside have said they refuse to close under newly imposed restrictions in the area, which are due to come into effect tomorrow (Wednesday 14 October) as part of the government's new three-tier lockdown system.
Yesterday (12 October), Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed that Merseyside would be placed into the 'Very High' level, which meant pubs, bars, gyms, leisure centres, betting shops, adult gaming centres and casinos will be forced to close.
However, the owners of EmpoweredFit Gym in Greasby, Wirral, have released an open letter stating that they would be 'staying open', arguing that there is evidence to suggest that gyms are 'not major spreaders' of the virus.
The letter, signed by Chris Ellerby-Hemmings, Thea Holden and their team, called on the government to provide more support to businesses that have 'financially suffered', also saying gyms are crucial businesses for helping improve people's mental and physical wellbeing.
The message, which was posted on the gym's Facebook and Instagram pages, read: "We are staying open to our members. The UK's government has took it upon themselves to close gyms in the North West, despite the overwhelming evidence that gyms are not a major spreaders of Covid.
"We respected the last lockdown although we financially suffered and only survived because of our amazing members. However they now want us to close, with minimum financial support for six months. We get no rent break, bills break both personally and as a business.
"We are not staying open for financial gain but more for our members' mental and physical well-being.
"Gyms should be supported in fighting against Covid, obesity, mental health and many other conditions and diseases."
The post then urged people to 'look at the facts and evidence', referencing a study from UKActive that said UK gyms are showing 'just 0.35 cases per 100,000 visits', along with September data from the Office for National Statistics that showed male suicide was at a high, accounting for 16.9 deaths per 100,000 last year.
The message concluded: "Joe Anderson, the Mayor of Liverpool, has also today stated he does not agree with the measures the government are enforcing on Merseyside and they did not let him have a say about his region.
"So Joe I ask you to stand with us, stand with our members, our members who have worked the front line throughout who need a place to escape, to turn off and look after both their body and mind."
In comment underneath the post, the team stressed that they are 'NOT anti Covid', adding: "We are not here to push the conspiracy theories. But we are here to stand for our people and industry who have proven time and time again we are safe and professional."
In a statement released earlier today, PureGym has echoed the same sentiment, saying it is 'extremely disappointed' to have to close its seven gyms in the Liverpool area.
Humphrey Cobbold, Chief Executive Officer of PureGym, said: "We urge the mayors and leaders of the Liverpool City Region to reconsider this retrograde step which has no scientific basis and we challenge the Government to present the data that supports this decision.
"The facts and data we have at a national and local level indicate clearly that gyms are safe with no evidence of Covid-19 transmission in gyms. Indeed, EHO inspectors have in general rated our gyms highly for the Covid-safe protocols that have been implemented.
"Our members and other gym goers in the area are bitterly disappointed to not be able to exercise, especially as the nights get longer and the temperatures colder.
"This decision will have a profound impact on some fitness facilities which are in a perilous state after the first lockdown and it will worsen the physical and mental health of the local population. We - as an industry leader - are committed to protecting all operators in the industry."
Cobbold added: "We will consider any and every course of action that can be taken to support our industry and members including recourse to legal processes if that is what it takes."
LADbible has contacted EmpoweredFit Wirral for further comment.
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