Gyms, bowling alleys and beauty salons demand the right to reopen
A host of Norfolk businesses that have been denied the right to reopen as lockdown is eased are demanding Government action to allow them to trade.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson gave the green light for pubs, restaurants and many other firms to reopen from July 4.
But others, including bowling alleys, indoor gyms and beauty salons, face the “soul-destroying” news that they have to stay closed - with no certainty of when that will change.
Public swimming pools, spas and saunas are also unable to open.
The gym industry has organised a national petition to see them reopen, which has gained almost 120,000 signatures.
PureGym manager Jason Elves, in charge of gyms across Norwich with the firm now owning three in the city and one in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, said he was hugely disappointed.
Pure brought Mr Elves back to work to start getting gyms ready for reopening. He said almost half of the cardio equipment such as treadmills was being removed to allow social distancing and new ‘train safe’ areas created for people to work out away from others.
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He said: “I think we are all hugely disappointed not to reopen, it is a shame as the government has put pubs before fitness. I come from Norwich, it was fantastic to open up the gyms and we aren’t going anywhere, we are working as hard as we can so we can reopen as soon as we are allowed to.”
Brad Williams, a personal trainer who runs Gym 121 at the Royal Norwich golf course as well as Club 100 health clubs in Norwich and London, said he did not think outdoor gyms would be much safer.
Since lockdown, he has been unable to work and did not qualify for any government grant aid. “I went overnight to zero, the membership had to cease and we just had to shut down. But I do welcome the fact it will make people clean down gym equipment more.”
For the past few weeks JR’s in North Walsham, had been preparing to reopen the bowling alley after receiving “a strong feeling it could” by the industry.
Measures planned included only every other bowling alley open, deep cleans between games and time slots.
Jon Goodyear, operations manager at JR’s, said: “While we were not surprised that the soft play area and the gym would not reopen, I was surprised that bowling alleys had to remain shut.
“It was really disappointing as we had put all the measures in place and done all the staff training. The news was soul destroying when you’re already struggling to hold on to your business.”
While Mr Goodyear said the business would be able to survive, he added they would emerge with more debt then when they first started.
He added: “We have no fears of survival although it will be tough. Not everything will be fine but we’ll get our head above the water and go from there.”
Charlotte Croft, who owns Glambox Lashes, Tanning and Beauty in St Benedict’s Street in Norwich, said: “I’m sure that I can speak for the majority of the beauty industry and say that we were all shocked, disappointed and upset at the outcome of the recent announcement, especially as we haven’t even been issued with a new date to work towards.
“The beauty and hair industry have always been grouped under the same sector, but now we have been divided.
“As a salon we have undergone preparations to ensure it is a safe environment for all staff and clients.
“We have already purchased visors, masks and gloves and also installed hygiene screens throughout the salon and we’ve also ensured that each workstation is two metres apart, despite this now being reduced.
“Having to reschedule hundreds of clients’ appointments again isn’t just upsetting for us, but also everyone who was looking forward to being pampered and feeling like normality was once again close.”
Kayleigh Green, who owns Polished 2 Perfection, on Norfolk Street in King’s Lynn and works on her own, said she was “devastated” at the prime minister’s announcement.
“It’s been a struggle - although the government has helped with giving support we have been given no information when we can reopen,” she said.
“I don’t really see any difference [between us and] hairdressers. This is my livelihood, income and passion.”