A GYM owner from Chepstow has warned of a “wave of problems” with mental health and obesity due to the continued lockdown of gyms in Wales

The Welsh government has already brought forward the reopening date for gyms and leisure centres from 10 May to 3 May, stating a drop in Covid-19 cases prompted the change.

But with gyms allowed to open in England on April 12 and claim up to £18,000 in restart grants, there is a growing feeling of frustration among Welsh gym owners.

It has sparked fears that facilities particularly close to the border could lose clients to gyms just a few miles away.

Claire Pennington is director of the Hub Gym in Chepstow.

She said that, from looking at social media, she could see “dozens and dozens of our Welsh members simply driving over the bridge and - quite rightly - using gyms in England”.

“The Welsh Government has been good with grants, but that finished on 1 April and the impact to my business has been devastating,” she said.

“Our gym cannot legally open whereas one a few miles away in England can. There is no evidence to support this decision and there is no compensation to remain closed.

“So why should we?”

The Welsh Government has remained cautious over the reopening of gyms, pointing to fears of the more transmissible and highly infectious Kent variant of Covid-19 taking hold in the country.

Yet gym owners say they pose no greater risk than any other sector.

“The gym participated fully in track and trace from inception - not one case or event was linked back to it at any point, it’s a modern gym with very good ventilation,” added Ms Pennington.

“Our members are all sensible and simply want to maintain or improve their physical and mental health.”

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “We have always followed the clear scientific and medical advice to take a phased and cautious approach to lifting restrictions. Due to the higher risk of transmission indoors, and from aerosol transmission, we have generally prioritised changes linked to outdoor activities.

“We have made unprecedented levels of funding available to support Welsh businesses during these incredibly challenging times. To date we have provided more than £2bn in business support during the pandemic, safeguarding 165,000 Welsh jobs. Private and commercial providers of gyms and fitness facilities have also been helped through the £15.3m package of support.

“Our comprehensive package of financial support for Welsh businesses will continue throughout April and into May. Many businesses will already have received their full share of the £180m funding announced in mid-March upfront to see them through until May, for others cash grants will continue to be paid during April as applications are confirmed. Businesses will therefore see no interruption in the flow of financial support, as we move cautiously to relax public health restrictions.

“Another £200m in additional support for business has already been earmarked in the Final Budget 2021-22.”