A Westminster Hall debate on e-petitions 333869 and 309851, relating to Covid-19 restrictions on gyms and golf courses, is scheduled for Monday 23 November 2020 at 4.30 pm. The debate will be opened by Catherine McKinnell MP. 

The text of E-petition 333869 (Prevent gyms closing due to a spike in Covid-19 cases) reads:

In the event of a spike we would like you not to close gyms as a measure to stop any spread of Covid. Also for gyms to not be put in the same group as pubs in terms of risk or importance. Gyms are following strict guidelines and most members are following rules in a sober manner.

The gyms are a huge benefit for users, not just physically but mentally too. There are studies that show physical exercise can be a great boost to the immune system and releases endorphins which can prevent stress and a chain of mental illnesses. In such a stressful time people need a viable way to exercise. Using home equipment just isn’t sufficient, unless every person in the UK has hundreds of pounds to pay out on equipment (much of which has increased in price since the pandemic).

The petition received 609,753 signatures. The Government responded on 28 October 2020. 

The text of E-petition 309851 (Exempt golf courses from the list of venues required to close due to Covid-19) reads:

Isolation essential to the Government’s strategy for fighting coronavirus, and UK citizens must remain healthy and exercise whilst keeping adequate distance between people. The Government should allow golf courses to open so families or individuals can play golf in order to exercise safely.

This could be achieved on golf courses, whether families or individuals are playing rounds. On the course everyone can keep a safe distance from each other. Let’s make use of the space and the open air. Golf can help people stay healthy and happy whilst observing social distancing rules.

The petition received 257,267 signatures. The Government has not yet responded to the petition.

On 17 November 2020, in response to a PQ on exempting  gyms and golf clubs (as well as leisure centres, tennis clubs and other outdoor sports facilities) from the November restrictions, the Government said:

The Chief Medical Officer is clear that being physically active is important to long-term health and crucial for keeping people healthy during the ongoing pandemic. Evidence suggests that regular physical activity can promote good physical health and help manage stress and anxiety.

The national restrictions are designed to get the ‘R’ rate under control through limiting social contact and reducing transmissions. People are still allowed to leave their homes for exercise and recreation outdoors, with their household or on their own, or with one person from another household or support bubble. However, the Government have not introduced further exemptions because it is important that the restrictions are simple to understand.