Latest Covid stats show continued low prevalence in gyms until January lockdown

Gyms, pools and leisure centres across the UK have demonstrated further evidence of low prevalence of Covid-19 in their facilities, with new data showing an overall rate of just 1.7 cases per 100,000 visits.

Aggregated data by ukactive represents more than 75 million visits across the UK, from the initial reopening of facilities in July 2020 to the end of December 2020, before the third national lockdown began in England at the start of January 2021.

ukactive collected aggregated data on a weekly basis from more than 2,000 facilities overall, and has been able to undertake week-on-week monitoring to record the prevalence of Covid-19 among people who have visited the sector’s facilities.

The results show that while the case rate for the UK’s general population rose consistently over the time period, the prevalence of the virus remained extremely low in the UK fitness and leisure sector.

Measured from the end of July to the end of December (25 July to 27 December), there were a total of 1,277 Covid-19 cases among gym users that visited facilities over the 23-week period, against a backdrop of 2.3 million UK-wide cases in the same time (recorded by the government by date reported). 

The overall rate for the UK fitness and leisure sector across the whole period since the first reopening shows an overall rate of 1.7 cases per 100,000 visits. The case rate rose from 0.1 per 100,000 visits in the week commencing 27 July, reaching a high of 4.1 per 100,000 visits in the week commencing 26 October. The final full week of data collection ahead of England’s third national lockdown saw a rate of 2.1 per 100,000 visits, in the week commencing 21 December.

Using a methodology and framework distinct to the UK, the data collected by ukactive since facilities reopened from late-July has risen from 1,087 sites to a maximum of 2,042 in any one week, as momentum has grown and the power of building a sizeable sector-wide data set has been realised.

The sites represent a mixture of facility types, including gyms, leisure centres and boutiques, as well as different operating models, including private multi-site chains, public leisure trusts and independent operators and studios.

The UK data was included in the Europe Active THiNK Active study on Covid-19 prevalence across Europe, which was published in December, and accounted for nearly half of all the data gathered from facilities in Europe.

“Our sector continues to set the benchmark for responsible safety measures and monitoring of Covid-19, demonstrated by our latest data which again shows a very low prevalence of the virus in our members’ facilities,” said Huw Edwards, CEO of ukactive.

“Our nation’s gyms, pools and leisure facilities have never been more needed, as our communities try to recover mentally and physically from this terrible pandemic and the effects of lockdown.

“It is vital that our facilities are able to reopen as a priority in any phased approach, as they are desperately needed to support the physical and mental health of millions of people that rely on them to be active.”

Data collection is currently on hold as all facilities across the UK remain closed. Once these reopen, ukactive will resume monitoring in order to continue to support the government and sector in monitoring the safety of facilities.

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