Swimming pools, gyms, and beauty salons are among the businesses left out of the government’s plan to re-open as part of the latest phase of easing lockdown.
On Tuesday, Boris Johnson announced social distancing rules will be eased, allowing pubs, restaurants, hotels and hairdressers to open from 4 July in England.
The prime minister said people should remain two metres apart where possible, but that a “one metre plus” rule would follow.
The omission of swimming pools drew criticism from Swim England chief executive Jane Nickerson.
“I’m really distressed and I’m really appalled,” she said. “It was such a shock because we’d been working with the government throughout June on very high-level guidance to re-opening.
“So it was a complete and utter disaster for us to find out that we weren’t in the mix, and don’t have a date at all.”
2016 Olympic champion Adam Peaty joined a chorus of swimmers backing Swim England’s #OpenOurPools campaign calling for the government to reconsider its decision.
He tweeted: “Please @BorisJohnson give us a reason why pools will be one of the last things to open?! #OpenOurPools @Swim_England.”
It was originally believed that pools across England would be allowed to reopen from 4 July as stated in the previous phase of easing lockdown restrictions.
Simon Bailey at Hampton Pools fears it will have disastrous consequences for their historic outdoor pool.
He said: “Our busiest period is the summer period. In our winter period we don’t make an awful lot of money and that summer money which comes through really helps to allow us to be open 365 days a year, with heated pool water.”
The 36-metre tiled pool, which remains closed, would normally see up to 3,000 swimmers a day.
An estimated 70% of England’s theatres are also at risk and could close before Christmas, according to Old Vic CEO Kate Varrah. They are being allowed to open – but not to the public.
“We’ve done what we can, we’ve taken advantage of the brilliant furloughing scheme, we’ve cut our costs.
“But ultimately you cannot survive with no income, and that is the biggest issue that we’re all facing now.”
Theatre buildings can reopen but without members of the public, so rehearsals have started. Unlike swimming pools, theatre shows need prolonged preparation time.
But Varrah warns time is running out.
“It is urgent. We do need to know in the next month, two months, what’s going to happen. Otherwise we will be forced to make structural changes to the organisation that mean we can’t meaningfully re-open.”