As an opposition MP, an important part of my role is to scrutinise what the Government does. This means supporting them when they are doing the right thing and providing constructive criticism when they make mistakes. This can be difficult to get right at the best of times, but the Coronavirus pandemic makes it harder still because of the high stakes; as a country, we need to get the balance right between public health and saving lives, and protecting jobs and livelihoods.
This is no easy task. The lockdown – which was very necessary to stop the spread of the virus and save lives – unfortunately put many businesses and livelihoods at risk as our large parts of our economy shut off overnight. We have seen businesses gradually reopen sector by sector when the Government considers it safe to do so. On 25 July, the leisure sector will join retail and hospitality as thousands of sports centres, gyms and pools across England open their doors once again.
Within my constituency, this will include iTrain in Dukinfield, the fantastic new Wellness Centre in Denton, and lots of smaller private gyms and leisure amenities. This is great news for many of us, who have found staying fit and healthy much more difficult during the lockdown – it was only a few weeks ago that we were only allowed out of our homes once a day.
The benefits to public health of reopening health and sports facilities is therefore very obvious, but we must also be mindful of the potential risks. These facilities were later to reopen because some of the activities done within them bring a higher risk of spreading the virus. Luckily, our leisure providers here in Tameside are well-aware of these risks and will all be following Government guidance and taking the careful steps needed to make their facilities safe to use.
Some of these steps may seem inconvenient, but they are an important part of keeping each other safe while the virus is still in circulation, so I would encourage you all to follow them as closely as possible.
I’m very glad that we’re finally in the position where the leisure sector can reopen. After six months with no gyms, pools or similar, it’s really important that we get exercising again. We just need to make sure we follow the guidance keep safe.