DUNCAN Bannatyne OBE has written to MPs to propose a compromise amendment is put forward to allow some settings, including gyms and health clubs, to open should a national lockdown continue or if more stringent local restrictions are introduced after December 2.

In a video, with ukactive chief executive Huw Edwards, Mr Bannatyne puts forward "solid arguments, backed up by data".

The video makes the following points:

* Exercise improves mental health at a time when national anxiety has increased. The need to tackle obesity is obstructed by health club closures in winter months;

* Transmission was very, very low within the health club setting. Larger health clubs in particular, can operate using social distance and have effective systems to aid track and trace;

* Any ‘aerosol effect’ can be offset by re-spacing items of equipment, using the correct ventilation systems, and (if required) suspending group classes.

Mr Bannatyne said: “I have written to our local MPs to put the case for safe opening of gyms and health clubs based on irrefutable data and carefully developed and proven social distancing and hygiene procedures.

"On a personal basis I am opposed to the lockdown continuing and can see the logic in the approach advocated by some MPs, that areas with the most cases should face the most restrictions.

"If a national lockdown does continue or some areas are subjected to more severe restrictions, I hope some MPs might find it possible to suggest a compromise amendment to allow some facilities, including gyms, to re-open."

He added: "This is important for the mental health of the nation, and to help people keep physically fit to fight the virus should they be unfortunate enough to contract it.”

“I have also asked MPs to be fair and equitable to the health club sector, which has been mandated to close, to consider a VAT cut as has been extended to the hospitality industry, to help maintain the jobs of the nearly 200,000 people who work in our sector.

“I hope to receive a positive response to my points.”

Huw Edwards, CEO of ukactive, said: “We recognise the challenging decisions the Government has to make during this pandemic but our evidence shows that closing the fitness and leisure sector will only serve to exacerbate health issues and inequalities in our communities.

“The Parliamentary petition is an example of how so many people are making their voices heard – millions of people of all ages across the UK are desperately missing going to the gym or their local leisure centre, particularly now that winter is here, and are hugely worried how this will impact their physical and mental health.

“Having proven their safety, gyms and leisure facilities should be classified as an essential service, and permitted to remain open in order to play their role in maintaining people’s physical and mental health in the face of this health crisis.

“We continue to urge the Government to ensure that our members receive the tailored financial and regulatory support required for their survival and recovery at this time.”