THE re-opening of gyms in Wales has been pushed back due to new guidance from the Welsh Government's scientific advisors.

First minister Mark Drakeford said he agreed gyms are valuable for boosting people's physical and mental health, but said emerging evidence on Covid-19 variants meant it was unlikely they would be able to re-open at the next lockdown review in three weeks' time.

He said previous statements, suggesting gyms could be among the first places to reopen, had been made before the government's Technical Advisory Cell of scientists published its latest guidance.

"Since Eluned [Morgan, the mental health minister] pointed to the mental health advantage of being able to use gyms... we have had further advice," Mr Drakeford said on Friday.

"Their anxiety is that the Kent variant, which is so much more infectious than the original form of coronavirus, may make gyms particularly vulnerable to being places where the virus is spread."


He added: "I don't anticipate seeing gyms opening – certainly not in the next three weeks, but the evidence will accumulate over the weeks ahead as we gradually allow more things to happen."

The first minister said the general plan in Wales was to prioritise the safe reopening of schools and colleges before restrictions could be lifted on any other sectors.

"I acknowledge everything Eluned said about exercise, leisure centres, gyms – it isn't the physical fitness, it's mental wellbeing as well," the first minister added. "At the moment the advice is that we must be precautionary."

There was some good news, however, for people wanting to exercise outdoors with other people.

From Saturday, the rules will be relaxed slightly to allow up to four people to meet, from up to two households, solely for exercising outdoors.