IRELAND ACTIVE ARE SEEKING THE GOVERNMENT’S URGENT SUPPORT OF THE LEISURE, HEALTH, AND FITNESS SECTOR IN RESPONSE TO COVID-19 (CORONAVIRUS).

24th March 2020

Ireland Active, as the representative body for the leisure, health and fitness sector, are seeking the Government’s urgent support for the sector that has been severely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Ireland Active’s members employ some 10,000 staff across 350 public and privately-owned leisure centres, gyms, swimming pools, fitness education providers and recreation facilities nationwide, most of whom are now closed. Each week 550,000 adults exercise in gyms and a further 300,000 swim in pools across the country, however this physical activity has now come to a halt.

Significant job losses along with the fact many businesses need to maintain considerable operating costs despite the shutdowns means that Covid-19 not only has had an immediate impact on the industry but also jeopardises long-term business viability in a sector that generates an estimated €500 million for the Irish economy each year.

Ireland Active is asking for Government Support for the industry through payment breaks for VAT payments, Local Authority Rates, Mortgage/Loan/Rent Payments, PRSI Payments and Water Charges as well as business support measures including utility/energy costs, employment supports, reduction of VAT to 0% and business grants. Ireland Active have suggested that the above measures be put in place for an initial period of two months and be reassessed thereafter as the situation regarding Covid-19 continues to develop.

Ireland Active are also keenly aware of the potential impact in terms of physical and mental health of the absence of normal exercise and fitness routines. Every week almost a million people avail of gyms and swimming pools to engage in physical activity. With personal exercise and swimming being Ireland’s most popular sporting activities, it is important that people still engage in the necessary physical activity to maintain health and wellbeing whilst complying with social distancing guidelines.

Taking part in exercise programmes online is one way that can be helpful. Ireland Active would recommend that everyone engaging such activity ensures that the fitness instructor is recognised by the Registered Exercise Professional (REPs).  A list of all Registered Exercise Professionals can be found at https://www.repsireland.ie/member-directory

Conn McCluskey, Chief Executive of Ireland Active, said:

“Like so many industry sectors, the leisure, health and fitness industry has been particularly hard hit by the current Covid-19 pandemic. The initial priority was to support our members through this difficult and quickly evolving time. Our focus is now turning to safeguard the longer-term viability of our members business’s that play a crucial role in providing a place of leisure and physical activity for individuals, schools, exercise groups and clubs. Physical activity in turn is integral to improving and maintaining long-term health and well-being. It is for this reason that we are asking Government for support to minimise the immediate economic shockwave caused by the Covid-19 on this important business and community sector.”

Read letter to Minister Paschal Donohoe TD here