Indoor gyms, swimming pools and other indoor sports facilities have seen a cautious return of customers as they reopen their doors for the first time since March. However, it's thought at least a third of public facilities have stayed shut.
The leisure sector has warned it will still struggle because of the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Gyms that reopen must follow strict hygiene and social distancing measures, such as limiting the number of people using the facility and spacing out equipment.
Facilities should also reduce class sizes and ensure adequate ventilation, according to government guidance issued earlier this month. Outdoor gyms and pools have been open in England since 4 July because there is less risk of catching coronavirus outdoors.
Indoor gyms in Northern Ireland opened earlier this month, but they remain closed in Scotland and Wales. Swim England has published its own guidance for operators on how to reopen indoor pools, including implementing a one-way entry and exit system.
Its chief executive Jane Nickerson said financial problems meant less than 20% of pools will reopen this weekend. The cost of heating the pools and implementing the new guidelines, as well as the reduced footfall and fewer swimming lessons, mean many cannot afford to open, she said.
She also called on the government to give more financial support to struggling pools, saying the money would also help with its plan to tackle obesity. Meanwhile, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has confirmed gyms and sports facilities will not reopen in Luton or Blackburn with Darwen due to an increase in coronavirus cases in those areas.
Despite the relaxed rules, industries bodies have warned many facilities could be forced to close amid the pandemic.
Community Leisure UK, the members' association that specialises in representing charitable leisure and culture trusts across England, Scotland and Wales, estimates that 48% of all public leisure facilities face closure, meaning as many as 1,300 could disappear by the end of the year, along with more than 58,000 jobs.