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PureGym eyes legal challenge over Liverpool gym closures

Henry Saker-Clark, PA City Reporter
·2-min read

The UK’s largest gym chain, PureGym, has said it is considering legal action over the Government’s decision to close gyms and fitness centres in Liverpool as part of Tier 3 Covid-19 restrictions.

Humphrey Cobbold, chief executive officer of the company, said the move, which will see it close seven sites in the Liverpool City Region, will actively contribute to the “wilful destruction” of the sector.

He urged the Government to present data to support the closure of gyms and fitness sites, claiming that there is “no evidence of Covid-19 transmission in gyms”.

The Government and local leaders have said that gyms will have to close in the city, alongside leisure centres, betting shops, casinos, pubs and bars.

Gym equipment is sanitised
Laura Kendrew sanitises equipment during her workout at the PureGym in Leeds, Yorkshire (Danny Lawson/PA)

Mr Cobbold told the PA News Agency that he hopes the Government will reconsider its decision.

“We hope they can come to this decision by talking to us and trying to look at the evidence there is,” he told PA.

“But if this does not get better, then we might have no other option than to consider redress through legal mechanisms.

“These restrictions will hit local operators hard but are also urging them to change because we believe this decision will be to the manifest detriment to people in the city.”

It comes after leaders in the night-time economy announced on Monday that they have launched a legal challenge over the decision to shut pubs and bars, unless they choose to operate as restaurants, in Covid hotspots.

The gym operator reopened its sites across the UK from the end of July after around four months of closures.

Mr Cobbold said the company has taken a £100 million hit as a result of the pandemic impact.

He said that group, which runs 276 UK gyms, has been notified of 11 staff and gym members who have been diagnosed with the virus across its Liverpool-based sites.

“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,” he added.

“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.”