Bannatyne Group executive chairman Duncan Bannatyne is asking local MPs to back the re-opening of his health clubs.
Around 70% of the club’s nearly 3000 members want to resume their fitness routines and Duncan believes his facility sets the gold standard on safety that the government should adopt in setting regulations for re-opening.
Among the key points Duncan is making are:
All members have electronic wristbands enable us to track and trace our members, telling us who is in the club and when.
The local health club is much larger than most gyms and – when combined with extensive hygiene rules – will enable social distancing at two metres (more than now required for pubs)
The national operator, which has 72 sites across the UK, uses a system of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) member wristbands, which provide access to a range of services in the health clubs, and crucially, can support the government’s Track and Trace programme. The wristbands provide a record of members’ movements around the health clubs, including when they enter and leave, which exercise classes they attend and which areas of the gym and equipment they use.
Bannatyne Health Clubs would be able to work with individual public health authorities to provide information to support the control of local COVID-19 outbreaks as members have given the company permission to use the personal data tracked by the wristband under the GDPR legislation.
The local club has also established sector-leading social distancing and hygiene rules, involving two metres distance, with numerous items of equipment temporarily brought out of service and classes reduced in size.
Extra cleaning, member temperature checks and numerous sanitising stations add to the tough new safety rules that will be introduced once the government gives the go-ahead for re-opening.
Duncan Bannatyne said: “I have written to our local MPs and to members of the government, including Boris Johnson, to put the case for safe re-opening based on a carefully develops set of social distancing and hygiene procedures.
Unfortunately, few MPs have responded to my offer to show them around our clubs and no government scientific advisers have been in touch. They are taking decisions blind, instead of looking at best practice and making it commonplace across the sector.
“The size of our health clubs and our wristband technology are real differentiators and should be taken into consideration when the government is making its calculations and revised guidelines for the re-opening of gyms and health clubs.
“Its broad brush ruling that is preventing us from opening hasn’t considered the investments we have made in technology that can actually help the government and the NHS manage outbreaks.
“This can’t be done by the many council leisure centres and pools or much smaller gyms, but we can be the first to prove that health clubs can be safe, while also directly supporting the Track and Trace programme.
“We are a highly responsible operator that have implemented a comprehensive range of social distancing and hygiene measures in all of our health clubs and are ready to welcome our members back into a safe environment. The government has to seriously consider the efforts being made by operators like ourselves, which place the safety of our staff and members at the forefront of our businesses.”