People using rowing machines outside a gym Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Some gyms have moved equipment outside

As lockdown eases, many businesses have reopened, but not all of them.

Gyms, nail bars, swimming pools and tattoo parlours are among the places still closed in most of the UK.

Why are they not yet open and what might change?

Why are indoor gyms still closed?

Outdoor gyms have been unlocked in England since 4 July, but indoor gyms are still closed.

The difference is partly in the fresh air. The government has been more relaxed about outdoor activities than indoor ones since the outbreak began.

Coronavirus is spread by droplets exhaled by an infected person, which can then be picked up from surfaces or from the air. You are less likely to pick up those droplets outdoors.

It is possible that as an infected person taking exercise would be breathing more quickly, the risk of spreading the virus may be increased.

Industry body ukactive has released guidance for how gyms might open safely when they are allowed to, including:

  • Regular cleaning of things that are touched a lot such as exercise equipment
  • Only using equipment that is 2m (6ft) apart
  • Setting gym capacity to allow three square metres per person.

Indoor gyms are due to reopen in Northern Ireland on 10 July. No date has yet been set in Scotland or Wales.

Why can’t I visit a nail bar?

Nail bars are defined by the government as “close contact services”, which it says are some of the “most risky” businesses to reopen.

In the government guidance for these sectors, the “highest risk zone” is defined as “the area in front of the face”.

Businesses that need staff to be within that area for most of the appointment are told they should not reopen, unless they can adapt their working practices.

Image copyright PA Media

Nail technicians usually sit opposite their clients, whereas hairdressers can stand behind their customers, or to the side.

In Northern Ireland nail bars and beauty salons were able to reopen on 6 July along with hairdressers and barbers. They will be allowed to open on 22 July in Scotland. No date has been set for Wales.

Why can’t I go swimming?

Swimming pools are not currently allowed to open. That’s true of both indoor and outdoor pools.

Swim England chief executive Jane Nickerson said: “It appears that it is okay to sit on the couch watching professional sport, go out for a high calorie meal and then go to the pub but you can’t go for a swim, which provides a sanitised environment.”

Image copyright Reuters

Professor Deenan Pillay from University College London told the BBC: “Given the amount of chlorine that is in swimming pools, viruses are not going to survive there.

“So it’s not the actual swimming that’s the risk but it is all the other stuff that goes with it – the changing rooms, getting in and out the pool and the risk of shared showers.”

Swim England has published guidance for operators when pools do open, including:

  • Increasing the supply of outside air to pools
  • Implementing a one-way entry and exit system
  • To minimise use of changing rooms, encourage bathers to arrive showered and changed ready to swim.

Swimming pools are not allowed to open anywhere in the UK.

Why can’t I get a tattoo?

Tattoo artists also work in very close contact with their customers, sometimes for a long time. Touching people is known to increase the risk of transmitting the virus.

Tattoo artists say it’s frustrating having to stay shut – especially since they have long been required to have measures in place to prevent cross-contamination.

Image copyright PA Media

The Tattoo and Piercing Industry Union say they have submitted a 10-point plan for reopening studios to the government, which includes:

  • wearing masks, face shields, aprons and gloves
  • keeping work stations 2m apart
  • considering relocating or deferring tattoos or piercings that require face-to-face working.

Tattoo studios have been allowed to open in Northern Ireland since 6 July. No date has been set in Wales or Scotland.

What else is still closed?

The following sectors are all still closed in England:

  • Nightclubs, dance halls, discotheques
  • Casinos
  • Bowling alleys
  • Indoor skating rinks
  • Indoor play areas
  • Spas
  • Tanning booths and salons
  • Massage parlours
  • Indoor fitness and dance studios
  • Exhibition halls and conference centres


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