Gym and leisure centre owners are breathing a huge sigh of relief today as they have been permitted to stay open despite Lancashire being thrust into a tier three lockdown.

The restrictions, which will ban people in different households from mixing in both indoor and outdoor settings, and will see the closure of all non-food serving pubs, are expected to come into play from midnight on Friday.

Lancaster And Morecambe Citizen:

But unlike neighbouring Merseyside, where gyms, studios and leisure centres have been forced to close (despite resistance from several owners of such establishments), recreational sports centres across East Lancashire have been allowed to remain open...for now.

Lancaster And Morecambe Citizen:

Leanne Proctor who runs the Billy Project in Blackburn said the dithering and confusion over the restrictions this week has made her ill, but she is absolutely over the moon that she and her staff can continue providing exercise facilities for her members.

Ms Proctor said: "This is the best news we could have hoped for. It's amazing news.

"To the council leaders, thank you so much for hanging in there and getting us the best deal possible.

"Obviously we are upset about the businesses that have to close as it's terrifying that livelihoods are being taken away from people, and people are struggling to look after their families, but we will stand together through this."

Ms Proctor said despite being allowed to remain open, she thinks gyms and leisure centres will be forced to close eventually.

Lancaster And Morecambe Citizen:

She added: "I think a full national lockdown is coming.

"What's been done so far isn't working and the local lockdowns aren't fair."

Throughout the whole pandemic though, Ms Proctor said what has been positive is the improved relationships between gyms.

She added: "Many gym owners have worked together through this and have built a real sense of solidarity, which has been incredible.

"Also, Damian Talbot has been a big help and a huge thank you should go to Denise Park too as she's been adamant from the start that she didn't want gyms to close.

"People have been suffering enough and we are the only thing people have got left; if we get taken away it doesn't bear thinking about.

"So, we're relieved that we'll live to see another day...for now"

Lancaster And Morecambe Citizen:

Tessa Clemson, who owns and runs Tessa Clemson Yoga in Great Harwood said she's extremely relieved local leaders have allowed gyms and studios to remain open as a lot of hard work has gone into making such places 'Covid-secure'.

She said: "I am extremely relieved to be able to stay open after the latest announcements.

"Tier three and closure of the studio would have meant more changes and adaptations, classes going online, more organisation to make sure my business could still function and at least keep all of my yoga teachers teaching and the rent covered.

"This is on top of the time and money I have already spent putting ‘Covid-secure’ measures in place such as extra cleaning, social distancing and smaller class sizes.

"When lockdown first happened back in March my business was one of the first to close, I taught free online classes in an attempt to not only help people’s mental health but to keep my business going.

"I set up mummy and baby groups on WhatsApp and Zoom and organised socially distanced walks.

"Throughout this whole pandemic I have stayed positive, thought of new ways to keep the studio open and have constantly tried to think outside of the box and stay motivated."

Lancaster And Morecambe Citizen:

Ms Clemson said it's been reassuring to receive support from the local community, and reiterates that there's a definite need for people to stay active to keep their bodies and minds healthy.

She added: "It’s a shame that pubs not serving food are being forced to close, as there are so many industries behind the scenes that provide equipment and services that are also losing out.

"However it is important to raise awareness that it is not just pubs affected by these tiers and local lockdowns, lots of small businesses like mine, which are already operating at much lower levels would be devastated by having to close again.

Lancaster And Morecambe Citizen:

"I am pleased that I will be able to remain open under the new changes, but it is so important that people do what they can to support all local businesses, including gyms, small studios, hairdressers, beauticians, shops, cafes etc.

"I am lucky to have a fabulous team of teachers and the best community of yogis around me, plus family and friends who help me stay positive and driven.

"I am proud to be from the North and that the people representing us have worked together, but we do need to stay united and remember that we are all in this together."