Boris Johnson hints that social distancing measures might be reduced by 4 July
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Boris Johnson hints that social distancing measures might be reduced by 4 July

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Boris Johnson has hinted that social distancing measures might be reduced by 4 July in some areas.

Speaking earlier this afternoon during a visit to Bovingdon Primary School, he told reporters to 'watch this space' in regards to the 2m limit, saying that things may change to 1m very soon 'if the science supports it' to allow pubs and restaurants to open and to allow more children to go back to school.

Johnson did not mention gyms specifically but said that the emerging strategy of – as he called it – 'whack-a-mole interventions' – with local lockdown replacing national restrictions – was the aim of the government and that we can expect to see a number of changes to restrictions very soon.

The government has hinted that gyms may be allowed to reopen on or around 4 July, but there has been no definite decision yet, with the industry urgently calling for clarity to enable reopening plans to be put in place in good time.

If the social distancing margins change from 2m to 1m, operators will need to take a view on which to opt for, striking a balance between commercial pressures to enable viable levels of usage versus the safety of customers.

Although ukactive, EuropeActive and IHRSA have published COVID-19 guidelines, with so many variables, such as opening windows, air con with and without HEPA filters, the orientation of equipment, the type of exercise involved and the floor area available, operators are juggling many moving parts when making decisions about COVID-19 standards within individual facilities.

Many have already started preparations, ordering 2m distancing stickers and graphics, so a change to 1m would mean this work would need to be redone unless the operator chose to stick with 2m.

There has been no one single global response to this challenge, with some gyms in Germany mandating a 3m distance, while some in the US are working with 1m and everything in between.

In addition, operators in Germany, such as Holmes Place, are following government guidelines there to keep indoor exercise to 'low aerosol' workouts to avoid the spread of the virus, with high impact classes taking place outside.

In a recent discussion on LinkedIn concerning the 1m vs 2m debate, opinions were split, with some operators keen on the 1m option – the WHO's guidance standard – to allow sustainable trading and others plumping for a more cautious approach to add another layer of safeguarding for customers.

If the rule is relaxed to 1m, it will be interesting to see which operators stick with 2m and whether this gives them a competitive advantage or not.

There is also the consideration that – unless these distances are enforced within gyms – consumers may come to eventually see them as a token gesture.

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Boris Johnson has hinted that social distancing measures might be reduced by 4 July in some areas.
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