Owners slam "unjust" decision to force Bradford gyms to close as others in lockdown areas remain open

Gym owners in Bradford have criticised the "unjust" decision to force them to close but allow other gyms in nearby areas to remain open.

Adam Reardon and Lisa Tordoff, who won the Planet Fitness gym in Odsal, have been forced to shut down under new 'local lockdown' measures.

Businesses such as gyms, sports facilities and swimming pools in Bradford were told to close from Saturday, August 1 after a local lockdown was introduced.

The lockdown restrictions also apply in Calderdale and Kirklees. However, it is only gyms in Bradford that have been forced to close due to the city's higher coronavirus infection rates.

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Under the new legislation, people are still legally able to travel from the Bradford district to other areas to go to the gym.

The gym had been closed since March and spent time and money making the area compliant with government safety measures.

Adam Reardon, 27, the co-owner of the Planet Fitness gym on Halifax Road in Odsal, was forced to close his gym following Matt Hancock's announcement late on July 30 - just five days after it had reopened.

Mr Reardon, 27, from Wibsey, said: “We watched Matt Hancock’s announcement and there was no mention of business closures so we opened up the next morning as usual.

“The first we heard about closing was on social media. The government eventually did issue guidance that said indoor gyms must close in Bradford but it also said in the same document that people could continue going to the gym. That’s where the confusion was coming from.

“We didn’t hear anything directly. There was no confirmation on what we should do. Everything was in limbo."

Streamline Gym in Wibsey, Bradford, had put drastic measures in place to ensure people's safety before it was shut down after just five days.

The father-of-one added: “The gyms have only been open five days. They said it takes two weeks when the symptoms developed for coronavirus so where's the evidence saying gyms have caused that spike?

"Gyms have regular cleaning, hand sanitiser and social distancing. It’s probably one of the safest places to be.

“We need the evidence to explain why we were shut down otherwise it feels unjust."

Miles Halstead, 41, managing partner at Streamline Gym on Wibsey Park Ave in Wibsey, said: “I live in Cleckheaton which is a Bradford postcode but technically part of Kirklees. I live under one set of rules but have to work in another.

Miles Halstead, is the managing partner at Streamline Gym on Wibsey Park Ave. He was forced to close his gym after the 'local lockdown' announcement.

“Apparently, Covid-19 can’t travel down the M606. We’ve already had members apologising and telling us they are going to train in other areas until we are back open.

“The government guidance was to control the virus. I don't think letter people cross-contaminate helps control anything. It makes zero sense.”

Mr Halstead added: "On the day we were told to close, we drove past pubs that were packed with zero social distancing and people hugging and greeting each other.

“We just had to close down a sanitised, safe business and then you drive past that. It makes you question the logic.

“If they had said to us, we are doing a Bradford lockdown and all businesses are closing we would have accepted that we should all get behind it. It makes sense but simply locking the gyms down doesn’t.

“What is the justification for closing us down?”

Bradford Council has today confirmed that the closure of gyms in Bradford taken by the government - which they support - as the council does "not have the power" to enforce such closures.

A spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care also confirmed that the regulation was "ultimately laid by the government" but added that it is "constantly discussing these types of measures with local partners".

Speaking to The Yorkshire Post, a spokesman for Bradford Council said: "The council does not have the power to close gyms; only the government has those powers.

"We support the government’s decision and accept that the level of infection in the district demands action is taken."

The spokesman added: "The government bases its decision on the latest data and the advice it receives from its scientific advisers.

"Given that we have the highest infection rate they have taken the decision to close gyms.

"Public health advice is that the nature of gyms and fitness centres means that people are exercising and so breathing more heavily and sweating in an indoor environment, often in close proximity to others for more than fifteen minutes, and often using multiple pieces of equipment so there is added risk.

"It appears that there is no legal power to stop people accessing a gym in another area but we are currently looking at the legislation to check the answer to this question.

"The council agreed that the restrictions should apply to the whole district because people often travel to use sports facilities and don’t just use facilities where they live."

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