The owner of Staffordshire’s biggest indoor water park has hit at out at the Government’s decision to keep indoor gym facilities closed beyond July 4.
The Prime Minister yesterday announced that ‘close contact’ leisure facilities, including gyms, spas and beauty salons will remain closed despite pubs, restaurants and hairdressers getting the go ahead to reopen next month.
Now Mo Chaudry – who owns 25 fitness and soccer centres across the UK including Waterworld in Stoke-on-Trent, the M Club fitness brands and gym equipment supplier The Pulse Group – has slammed the decision as ‘absurd and grossly unfair.’
He said: “How can it possibly be safer for people to go back into a pub, than it is for them to set foot in a gym? This makes no sense at all – it’s ridiculous.
“I’m calling on the Government to urgently rethink this completely illogical policy – not just for the sake of our industry, but for the benefit of people’s health too.”
Mr Chaudry’s leisure and fitness group is one of the largest family-run independent businesses of its kind, with sites across the UK.
His empire employs more than 600 staff and provides work for around 300 freelance workers.
He said: “Larger indoor gyms are able to control social distancing much more easily than the majority of pubs. They are spacious, safe and excellently ventilated.
“Not only that, but the benefits of exercise are enormous to the UK population, both in terms people’s physical and mental wellbeing.
“Allowing people to lead healthier lives saves the NHS billions – on the other hand, I wonder how much it will cost them in drink-related accident and emergency cases when people pile back into the pubs.”
Mr Chaudry added: “I believe the health and fitness industry has been betrayed by this latest nonsensical decision.
“It makes a mockery of the Government’s long-time commitment to tackle obesity when it tells people they can go back into pubs and restaurants, but can’t visit their local gym or pool.
“The Government itself, and its scientific advisers, have acknowledged that people who lead healthier lifestyles are at a lower risk of being seriously affected by Covid-19.
“What’s more important for people right now – to lead active and healthy lifestyles, or to be able to eat and drink out?
“We operate more than 25 fitness and soccer centres around the UK and employ over 600 people – as well as providing important work for a further 300 freelance staff.
“The longer these facilities stay closed, the greater the risk of job losses, particularly with furlough support being phased out.”
Mr Chaudry is now calling for the Government to provide fitness and leisure businesses with a timeline of when they will be able to reopen.
He said: “Where is the scientific evidence to justify this continued delay?
“If the Government can provide proof that there is a greater risk to public health from reopening larger indoor gyms than allowing people to get drunk in pubs, then let’s see it.
“Otherwise, stop discriminating against the health and fitness industry, and apply some common sense to the situation.”