ANGER and frustration is mounting over the decision to close gyms in the Bradford district as part of measures to curb the spread of Covid-19.

After putting new safety measures in to safely re-open from July 25, last Thursday’s announcement came as a devastating blow for businesses.

To add to their dismay, gyms in neighbouring Calderdale and Kirklees, which are also subject to the new restrictions, can remain open.

Energy Mill Gym in Shipley has decided to keep its doors open regardless.

In a statement, the gym said: “The current government guidance has conflicting messages within it, to the point where we feel it is not clear enough to state that us being open is breaking any laws. Therefore we will remain open until the local council directly tells us that we must close (if they do).

“Exercise plays a huge part for so many in keeping a life balance. And it is potentially being taken away from our community with no solid reasoning as to why. Pubs, bars and restaurants remain open and there is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that they are in anyway safer than the gym. It is our opinion that our hygiene standards and Covid-19 protection procedures ensure that our facility is no more risky than going to the local supermarket. In fact we are likely safer.”

Owner Chris Gaskin told the Telegraph & Argus that police visited the gym on Monday, asked if it was open and then left.

He said that gyms, with a ‘built-in’ track and trace system because of their check-in systems, are easier to monitor than most industries and he, and others, are looking into taking legal action.

Planet Fitness, Halifax Road, and Streamline Health and Fitness Club, Wibsey, have also hit out at the decision, slamming it as “unjustified, illogical and irrational”.

In a statement, they said: “Without any scientific evidence or data, we believe the lockdown of gyms only is a borderline unlawful, prejudicial and severe restriction of trade.”

An e-petition has been launched on Bradford Council’s website, urging the local authority to re-consider. It can be viewed by clicking here

There has also been conflicting messaging around how the decision was made. In an email seen by the Telegraph & Argus, Robbie Moore, Conservative MP for Keighley and Ilkley, told one constituent: “This decision locally has been taken by Bradford Council’s Chief Executive and Council Leader, based on direction from the Council’s Director for Public Health.”

Bradford Council said the decision was taken by Government "who were advised by their experts" though say they "proactively raised the question".

A spokesperson said: “This is not the position anyone wanted to be in but we have a high and growing level of Covid-19 infections in the district, and must control its spread. We urge everyone to follow these regulations to get the infection rate down, it is the right thing to do.

"The additional Government restrictions brought in on the July 31 bring us into line with a small number of other authorities where cases are high and where indoor sports and leisure facilities have not yet been able to open.

“We know that the restrictions are disruptive for businesses like gyms and fitness centres. The decision to close gyms was taken by the Government who were advised by their experts.

"We did proactively raise the question with Government officials based on the growing infection rates across the district and Bradford Council supports the government’s decision.

"The nature of gyms and fitness centres means that people are exercising and so breathing more heavily and sweating in an indoor environment, often in close proximity to others for more than fifteen minutes, and often using multiple pieces of equipment so there is added risk.

"The Council agreed that the restrictions should apply to the whole district because people often travel to use sports facilities and don’t just use facilities where they live.

“The geography of the other restrictions applied last week was entirely the Government’s decision, the Council was not asked for its view and you will see that Government has chosen to apply these restrictions widely.

"The Council was not consulted at all on the Government’s social restrictions on household mixing. We will work with Government to keep the situation under regular review. Neither the Government nor ourselves will want to keep businesses closed for a minute longer than absolutely necessary.

“We have asked Government if we can use the remaining money we have left over from the Government’s business grants scheme to support businesses affected. We are awaiting their response.”