Thank you to everyone who has contacted me about the closure of gyms, leisure centres and outdoor sporting facilities during the second lockdown.
The decision to support a second lockdown was not an easy one to make. My Labour colleagues and I pressed the Government to act on the recommendations of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) back in September, but no action was taken. This delay has resulted in a lockdown which is longer than it needed to be.
While I completely appreciate the points raised by you and other constituents in support of allowing these facilities to remain open, Ministers have been forced to implement these tough restrictions due to their late action. While it may well be the case that the majority who take part in these activities would adhere to social distancing guidelines, it would be difficult to ensure this. Keeping these facilities open would also mean that staff were still having to travel to work.
Our focus now has to be on pressing the Government to ensure that there is a plan in place to reopen sports facilities after December 2nd and that there is sufficient funding available to guarantee their long-term survival.
Unfortunately I have not yet had an opportunity to raise this in Parliament, but last week my colleagues Cat Smith and Alison McGovern questioned Ministers from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. You can read the exchanges here: https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2020-11-05/debates/775F6067-6B40-4A2E-8CC9-A0EC917479B1/DigitalCultureMediaAndSport
It’s clear that Covid-19 will have an impact on our lives and the country’s economy for a long time to come, and sport and exercise will have a huge part to play in helping people to get through some tough times.