Posted 21st November, 2020

Hello everyone! Please find below our recent open letter to Simon Jupp, our local MP. Putting all political views to one side, it is important to remember that your local MP is elected to represent the interests and concerns of their constituents in the Houses of Commons.  We care very deeply about this subject and wanted to voice our views. We appreciate not all will agree with us on the points below, and we respect each and every person's opinion. We are all free to choose what we want to stand for and believe in! Thank you for taking the time to read this, and consider our view. Thank you also to Mr Jupp, who has responded very thoroughly to previous correspondence we have had surrounding the physical activity sector. We hope everyone is safe and well, and surviving this chaotic time we are all living through.


Subject: An Open Letter to Simon Jupp, MP for East Devon

21st November 2020

Dear Simon,

We hope this finds you well and thank-you for taking the time to reply to our previous email with your reassurances that you are pushing for change and will consider carefully the position we are all in ahead of any vote in Parliament regarding potential renewal of the current Lockdown measures.

We are writing again on behalf of Number 6, our boutique personal coaching studio, to call for your support in the upcoming Westminster Hall Debate on 23rd November, on the petition to keep gyms, studios, sports facilities and leisure centres open during any further restrictions of this Covid-19 pandemic. We are also sharing this as an open letter on our website as we feel this is a very important subject and it is vital to raise awareness in any way we can.

The physical activity sector has a hugely important role in the physical and mental wellbeing of your constituents as well as being a crucial tool to the country’s recovery from Covid-19 on so many levels. We stand with CIMSPA, the Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity, on their official position, namely that;

  • Leisure, is an essential service, supporting the nations physical and mental health, bringing communities together and saving the NHS £9.5bn every year
  • Throughout this pandemic, the government has consistently stressed the importance of exercise – it has been promoted as an essential daily activity and permitted reason to leave the house. During the winter months, access to gyms and leisure facilities is vital in helping many millions of people to maintain their physical and mental health safely, as outdoor activity becomes less appealing for many and more dangerous due to lack of lighting and adverse weather conditions

Sport England’s Active Lives Survey reported 3 million more inactive individuals in the first lockdown period compared to the same period in 2019. This number is likely to be even greater during the winter, with a devastating impact on health and wellbeing, if our facility and many others like ours, are not able to reopen on December 3rd. In your speech published November 4th on your website we were encouraged to see that you recognised the effect of this second lockdown on the nation’s mental health;

If we vote for a second lockdown, we will be punching our economy in the gut, with impacts on jobs, on businesses, on livelihoods, and our nation’s mental health. Ahead of December 2nd, my constituents in East Devon have made it clear they want to see a Plan B. A plan which strengthens testing and encourages freedom, not fear.

I agree. Like me, they worry the current treatment could be far, far worse than the disease.”

We now need to see this plan B. Gyms and leisure facilities have proven since reopening after the first lockdown, that they are safe with hygiene and social distancing measures within facilities drawn up in conjunction with the Government. The Government has so far provided no evidence to justify the closure of these facilities. Indeed, UK Active recently found that out of 22 million visits to fitness clubs in England since July 25th, infection rates at gyms were just 0.34 per 100,000. This supports evidence that Covid-19 has a low prevalence in the gym environment and is testament to the huge efforts being made by all across the physical activity sector with monitoring, cleanliness and safety.  

As explained previously, Number 6 is a scrupulously clean environment which has been meticulously planned out. At our small studio facility, our clients enjoy exclusive use of their training zone during their session to ensure there is no close contact with other people - we have just four training zones available at once which ensures we can cap numbers to the studio. We have all the relevant safety measures in place with regards to being Covid-secure and have spent countless hours researching this and implementing our ‘Covid Promise’ which I am happy to share again with you here and is also viewable on our website for full transparency.

I know these efforts are replicated across the country far and wide; here in East Devon alone, there are countless gyms and sports facilities, currently forced to close, who have done their absolute best, at great expense and effort to ensure they are operating in a fully Covid-secure environment.  We must all be allowed to re-open to support the nation through this dreadful period of time.

With the prospect of continued restrictions on a national and local level for the foreseeable future, it is vital the physical activity sector is recognised as safe and essential and is able to remain open.  We would urge you to ensure your constituents’ health and wellbeing are protected by attending Monday’s debate and hope you will give our view, set out in this letter, careful consideration.

On a separate note, we are extremely confused by recent reports in the media surrounding a potential restriction lift for the Christmas period. Whilst we are deeply sympathetic that many people have spent countless months separated from cherished family members - we have both personally experienced this on a very real level - we feel if these rumours come to fruition they would completely undermine the key messaging the government has been portraying to this point -  namely that we must reduce our close social contact to ensure the virus stays under control, and the health service is not overwhelmed.

We are very confused as to why it would then be acceptable at Christmas time to mix more widely with families, especially elderly relatives, presumably in peoples homes which are not Covid-secure environments, not policed in any way or subject to checks, when we are being told this is exactly what we should not be doing now. What knock-on effects would this have in January to businesses like ours and countless others, and more importantly what knock on effects on the case rates and the death toll - every single death a huge tragedy, as a result of this potential change of tact. To us, this would be contradictory messaging. What about those who would have liked to come together during Ramadan, and those who would have liked to celebrate Eid - where was their lockdown holiday? We hope that any potential relaxation on this would herald the arrival of significant vaccine delivery for those who may require it and that as a nation we would not be further penalised in January with harsher measures again. We would urge you to consider this in any debates moving forward surrounding the festive period, which of course is an emotive subject for many.

Thank you for your time in considering our views.

With best wishes,

Tom & Jessica Johnson