Former Dragon’s Den star on return of ‘vital important’ fitness sector

PUBLISHED: 08:58 11 July 2020 | UPDATED: 09:12 11 July 2020

Duncan Bannatyne

Duncan Bannatyne

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2011

A TV entrepreneur who owns health centres in Norfolk has welcomed the return of the vitally important fitness centre after the government gave the green light for the sector to open at the end of the month.

Holkham Hall. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYHolkham Hall. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

There has been support for the arts as well as moves to ensure fitness facilities are safe for visitors across the region.

Businessman Duncan Bannatyne, who has two health clubs in Norwich, will be able to open their doors again alongside indoor gyms, swimming pools and leisure centres on July 25.

The business owner said he expects all 57 premises to reopen on July 25 with the expected safety measures in place.

Mr Bannatyne said: “The fitness sector is vitally important, both for the nation’s health and the economy.

“A lot of hard work has been going on behind the scenes at the Bannatyne health clubs to ensure that our large and spacious facilities, which are conducive to social distancing, are safe for members and staff. Although some wet area facilities will remain closed for the time being, we hope to be able to reopen these in the near future.”

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Facilities will have to limit the number of people in at one time, reduce size classes and customers will be encouraged to shower at home instead of using the changing rooms.

Sports halls will also be able to reopen, allowing for the return of sports including badminton and volleyball.

As announced by Oliver Dowden, the culture secretary, performing arts activities that take place outside such as theatre, opera, dance and music, can resume from Saturday July 11.

Holkham Hall, which offers outdoor theatre to crowds of up to 1,000 people in the summer, says it would be wonderful to add theatre to the number of activities available to visitors after reopening last weekend.

Before the pandemic, the attraction had booked five theatre productions planned across July and August in its walled garden, which have been cancelled.

Lucy Downing, head of marketing at Holkham Hall, said: “It’s lovely, it’s definitely heading the right direction and a real positive. It has been really tough for many businesses, especially hospitality and the arts.

“It is wonderful to think 
the actors and those in production who people never see can work again in some way.

“If we can support that we will and we will be working with these partners to see if they are ready.”

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