Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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Petition Allow the armed forces to train in their own gym facilities during Covid-19.

The armed forces are required to maintain operational effectiveness 24/7/365 but without access to their own gym facilities, mental health issues & physical ability is deteriorating over the course of the pandemic. The armed forces should be able to train in their own unit gyms during COVID-19

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The government should recognise that military establishments require valid identification in order to enter, meaning a track and trace system is easily implemented within the Tri-Service environment. In order for the military to maintain operational effectiveness is it vital that soldiers, airmen and sailors have access to their own unit gym and fitness facilities in order to maintain the standards set out in their own respective service.

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Government responded

This response was given on 26 January 2021

Limited exemptions exist for Service Personnel to use gyms on the Defence Estate in England where this is crucial for the operational effectiveness of the Armed Forces.

Read the response in full

Defence has continued to deliver its essential outputs during COVID-19. Gyms play an important role in the operational effectiveness of the Armed Forces which is why there are exemptions in law in England for the Armed Forces to continue to use gyms on the Defence Estate.

The importance of sport and physical activity for the nation’s physical and mental health has never been more apparent. They play a powerful part of our collective resilience against the extremely difficult challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The current restrictions are designed to get the R rate under control through limiting social contact and reducing transmission of the virus. All decisions made by the Government relating to the pandemic and sport, exercise and the operation of gyms have been based on advice and guidance from health and scientific experts.

There is not a uniform position across Defence as to whether a gym remains open. The decision whether to keep gyms open is done on a site-by-site basis, taking into account the particular circumstances of each site, the needs of the personnel stationed there and operational requirements, together with the potential for operating facilities in a COVID-secure manner. Some specific examples of when the Armed Forces currently use gyms includes medical rehabilitation, essential training and in order to maintain operational readiness. Where gyms are open in England, COVID-19 secure measures are in place, including minimising the number of people in gyms at any one time, greater frequency of cleaning, and having track and trace procedures in operation.

Where gyms are closed, personnel are encouraged to exercise in line with wider government policy to maintain fitness levels and the wellbeing benefits that exercise brings.

Policy regarding gyms is a devolved issue. For Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland current applicable regulations (as at 19 January) require gyms to be closed as part of measures to minimise the spread of COVID-19. There are no explicit exemptions in place for gyms to be available for the Armed Forces in any of the Devolved Administrations, and therefore other forms of COVID-secure exercise and physical training are being encouraged.

Ministry of Defence

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