What you can and can't do as gyms and pools reopen today in England

The latest round of “lockdown’ changes rolls round today as gyms and indoor pools reopen in England.

Except you can hardly call it “lockdown” any more, because almost everything has reopened.

First non-essential shops, markets and schools (to years R, 1 and 6) were allowed to reopen in June in England.

Then pubs, hairdressers, hotels, campsites, restaurants, cinemas, cafes, bars and more followed suit on July 4. Outdoor swimming pools followed slightly afterwards.

The latest changes will leave almost no sector of the economy officially closed – with some very notable exceptions like theatres, which are facing oblivion.

But they have come with stricter rules on wearing masks for example, in all shops, supermarkets and on public transport.

Here’s a brief guide to the things you can do from today that you couldn’t do before… and what is still out of bounds.

Things you can do in England from Saturday 25 July

Go to the gym or an indoor sports court

Gyms are reopening and they’ll look a little different

Indoor gyms, as well as indoor sports venues and facilities, may reopen from today in England.

Under the new rules, exercise equipment will be spaced out and class sizes reduced to allow social distancing.

Dance classes and exercise sessions are likely to have markings on the floor to show you where to stand.

People will be encouraged to arrive in their kit and to travel home to shower afterwards, although showers will be available.

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Go to an indoor swimming pool

Operations manager at Phil Drape of Jesmond Pool and Gym in Newcastle

Indoor swimming pools can reopen – along with hot tubs, hydrotherapy pools, whirlpools and spa pools.

You can expect a hard limit on the number of people allowed in a swimming pool at any one time.

You may also see reduced opening hours to give increased time for cleaning.

Swimming pools should restrict numbers to allow 3sqm per bather.

Oh and if you want to use a flume you need to do it “in a socially distanced” manner.

Go to an indoor dance studio

Be prepared to give your name for contact tracing at the front desk

Indoor fitness and dance studios are allowed to reopen from today.

Temporary floor markings are recommended for dance and exercise studios.

They would be used to mark out the required spacing per individual while people jump up and down. 

Things you still can’t do in England

Go to a gym in Luton, Leicester or Blackburn

Gyms and pools have not been allowed to reopen in these areas due to a higher local rate of coronavirus.

Other local lockdown measures are in place in Leicester – please check local advice.

Gather in big groups or hug people outside your household

A definite no-no

There are still limits on seeing family and friends in England – even though mostly they are guidance, and not the law.

Outdoors, guidance says gatherings should consist of no more than either six people or two households, with proper social distancing.

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Indoors, gatherings should consist of no more than two households – again, with proper social distancing.

The exception is if you’re part of two households joined together in an exclusive “support bubble”. If so, you can hug and kiss and are essentially “one household”.

This applies in pubs as well as private homes.

The law only prohibits gatherings of more than 30 people.

Visit the following venues that only open on August 1

  • Bowling alleys
  • Indoor skating rinks
  • Casinos
  • Exhibition halls or conference centres

Visit the following venues that have no reopening date yet

  • Indoor theatres or gig venues for live shows (apart from a pilot scheme) 

  • Nightclubs, dance halls, discotheques

  • Sexual entertainment venues and hostess bars

  • Indoor play areas including soft-play areas 

Go on public transport without a mask

People in England can still be fined up to £100 if they don’t wear a face covering on public transport.

In fact with the new “one metre plus mitigation” social distancing rule, wearing a covering has become even more essential.

The Government has made it law to wear them on all trains, buses, trams, ferries and aircraft in a bid to reduce the spread of coronavirus.

Covering the mouth and nose like this cuts the risk of asymptomatic carriers – people who are infected but showing no symptoms – from passing on the virus.

DIY face coverings can be used, even scarves or thin cloth masks.

Visit a shop or supermarket without wearing a mask

Wearing a face covering over your nose and mouth is mandatory by law in all shops and supermarkets in England.

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It is also compulsory by law in post offices, banks, indoor shopping centres, and when buying takeaway food and drink, for instance from a cafe.

It already was mandatory on public transport – and is now mandatory in the stations and airports too.

Venues can turn away those without a mask – which can just be a a fabric covering, scarf or bandana – and police can issue £100 fines as a “last resort”.

The law – which also covers people not wearing masks over their nose, and allows police “reasonable force” to remove maskless people who refuse to leave – will remain in place for up to a year.

Exemptions include for the disabled and children under 11, while people can briefly remove their mask if asked by shop staff – for example to show ID.

Go out as normal if you are shielding

The rules for more than 2million “shielding” people in England were relaxed on July 6, but only end completely on August 1.

From July 6 shielding people have been able to go out and meet up to five friends – and if they live alone, form a ‘bubble’ with another household.

From August 1, the advice to shield ends completely.

The ‘shielding’ group in England is 2.2million people classed as “extremely clinically vulnerable”, who were specifically advised to stay at home at all times due to Covid-19.

People received the advice if they have a condition that makes them vulnerable to contracting or becoming seriously ill from Covid-19.

It includes people undergoing chemotherapy or radiotherapy, anyone with cystic fibrosis or COPD, or those with significant heart conditions.


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