Ireland Active, the national association for the leisure, health and fitness sector, has today welcomed the news of improved measures for supporting business as part of the July Stimulus package. The extension of the wage subsidy scheme, rates exemption extension, improved restart grants, low cost loans and warehoused tax liabilities were all called for in Ireland Active’s submission to Government earlier this month. However, the trade body believes that more will need to be done as part of the National Economic Recovery Plan in order to provide valuable support for the industry, including sector specific support measures such as tax rebates/vouchers and a VAT rate reduction to keep commercial sports facilities viable into the future.
The sector is estimated to have lost over €150m in revenue due to closures during Covid-19, and many facilities are now operating on less than 50% capacity due to social distancing measures.
Conn McCluskey CEO of Ireland Active said: “Ireland Active welcomes the measures announced as part of the July Stimulus however, we believe that more needs to be done to support an industry that employs 12,000 people and contributes €500 million to the economy. Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on the health and fitness industry in Ireland, and while measures outlined in the July Stimulus provide positive initial steps, additional supports will be needed to ensure the future viability of the sector and to ensure over 1 million people continue to exercise and swim in member facilities nationwide.”
Throughout the Covid-19 restrictions, commercial sports facilities have worked tirelessly and at great cost to ensure staff are trained in all Public Health protocols and that facilities are equipped and ready to welcome the public into a safe environment for exercise. Operators are ‘solutions focused’ by nature and have had to adapt to the new normal like many other businesses across the country by implementing social distancing measures and complying with the Ireland Active framework for safe operation which was approved by government. Through the dedicated following of these procedures and protocols, gym and pool operators nationwide are now providing a Covid-19-safe environment to protect the health and safety of members and employees.
The fitness sector gets over 1 million people active each week with over 550,000 adults exercising, and 450,000 adults and children swimming each week in leisure facilities across every community in Ireland. The sector is pivotal in keeping people active and healthy in the fight against COVID-19. Ireland Active will continue to work with government to ensure that the sector is recognised and supported for the contribution that it makes to getting more people, more active, more often.