Bannatyne Health Club and Spa in Inverness could be among gyms forced to close if coronavirus restrictions are not eased soon, owner says
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Former Dragon's Den star Duncan Bannatyne says he could be forced to close his health clubs in Scotland if they cannot reopen by the end of August.
The Bannatyne Group has 11 clubs north of the border – including the Bannatyne Health Club and Spa at Inshes Retail Park in Inverness – employing 600 people in total.
Mr Bannatyne said the Scottish outlets are currently being subsidised by his gyms in England.
Indoor gyms were able to reopen in England last week but there is currently no date for their reopening in Scotland and Scottish Government guidance advises it will not happen before July 31.
"There's 11 clubs in Scotland and 600 employees – we'd have to lay them all off if we can't open, say, by the end of August," he said.
"There's no point in us continuing to try and support them.
"We were very happy to close down when we were told in March, but now is the time to reopen again and I think we should be allowed to reopen very soon, if not today."
He added: "It would be more damaging to open and close down again but I can't see any reason not to open and stay open.
"When you compare us for example to pubs, where people are talking to each other and getting drunk, people come to health clubs for very different reasons. The danger is very small compared to pubs and even supermarkets."
Lockdown measures in Scotland are set to be reviewed on Thursday, but the First Minister has warned not to expect many more changes to be announced.
She said her focus was on enabling shielding people to have more freedom and schools to return safely next month.
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