Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has this evening set out the plans as part of Phase Three of easing lockdown restrictions. Speaking today, Mr Dowden said strict social distancing measures, which include maintaining social distancing, must be adhered to as part of reopening conditions.
He added: “Exercise is very important for physical and mental health.”
Outdoor arts performances – including theatres, opera, dance and music – will also be able to resume from the weekend although audience numbers will be restricted and will be subject to social distancing rules.
Alongside this, beauticians, tattooists and tanning salons can reopen from Monday, July 11 whilst recreational team sports like cricket are also able to begin their return from next week if they can show COVID-secure plans.
Supporters will also be allowed to attend community fixtures in small numbers provided they are in groups of two households only, or no larger than six people from different households, and adhere to social distancing measures.
The Culture Secretary said a change in planning rules will also mean theatres, concert halls and live music venues will be protected from demolition or change of use by developers, stopping those that have been made temporarily vacant during lockdown disappearing altogether.
Gyms will now reopen.
Many gyms have already put COVID measures in place.
Mr Dowden continued: “Our culture, heritage and arts are too precious to lose. That’s why we’re protecting venues like theatres from redevelopment if they fall on hard times.”
“We are also giving further clarity on restart dates in our roadmap back to performance. From July 11 we can all enjoy performances outdoors with social distancing and we are working hard to get indoor audiences back as soon as we safely can, following pilots.”
He also deployed a new slogan in the coronavirus fight, saying it is now time to “work out to help out.”
Mr Dowden continued: “I’m really urging people to get out there and to play their part: buy the tickets for outdoor plays and musical recitals, get to your local gallery and support your local businesses.
Anytime Fitness in Leeds preparing to reopen.
“Our fight began with a collective effort and I really hope it will end with one. At the beginning we all stayed at home to protect the NHS and save lives, now the British public has a new part to play. It’s time to eat out to help out, to enjoy the arts to help out and to work out to help out.
“It’s over to all of you to help the country recover safely.”
Among the measures being introduced for gyms include a reduction of and the spacing out of equipment within gym areas as well as booking workout times in advance.
Meanwhile, fitness classes could also be relocated to sports halls or outdoor areas, one way systems put in place as well as a reduction in the number of customers allowed in at any one time.
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More space between people has also been suggested.
Improving cleaning and providing hand sanitiser throughout venues, ensuring adequate ventilation, as well as temporary floor markings for exercise or dance studios, are among the other measures suggested.
Mr Dowden stressed that people would get used to the new measures, adding: “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.
“Of course it is going to take a while for people’s confidence to build, it is rarely the case that you pull up the shutter and everyone comes rushing in.
“But equally the experience in the UK and elsewhere is that over time people have gained confidence and have started to engage more.”
Strict measures will have to be followed.
Northern Ireland, however, will be the first part of the UK to reopen gyms following lockdown on Friday whilst gyms in Scotland and Wales won’t reopen until later this year.
PureGym, one of the UK’s largest operators, however, criticised the late opening and said: “We understand that these decisions are not easy, but it is a strange ‘war on obesity’ that sees pubs and restaurants open before gyms.
“Our facilities are, on average, the size of five or six doubles tennis courts and are exceptionally well ventilated, enabling people to work and exercise safely and securely.”
Gareth Kirk, GLL’s Regional Director for Belfast which runs Better Gym, said the eyes of the gym industry in the UK will be on Northern Ireland.
He added: “We have been working on this for the last six weeks with a July opening date in mind. Staff are going through five days of preparation and training ready to open up fully next Tuesday.”