Leisure centres across Hertfordshire are backing the petition for a government U-turn to keep gyms open during the second lockdown.

Westminster Lodge Leisure Centre, managed by Everyone Active, are raising the argument that gyms and leisure centres should be considered essential for mental health purposes during a winter lockdown.

Gyms were among the venues told to shut for the four-week national lockdown that started on Thursday (November 5).

In a letter from Everyone Active’s managing director, David Bibby, concerns were raised that shorter hours of sunlight and colder weather alongside the lockdown will affect mental health and the motivation for people to exercise outdoors.

Steve Cox, Everyone Active’s contract manager, added: “This is an incredibly difficult time for the leisure industry and Westminster Lodge Leisure Centre.

“We are urging our members to get behind us and to support their local centre by signing the petition to encourage the Government to keep gyms open."

During the course of the first lockdown, the Government encouraged people to make use of their essential exercise time with a walk or run – something that would be more difficult in winter settings.

Research by industry body ukactive shows that 58 per cent of people managed their mental health by being active during the last lockdown.

Since reopening gyms have taken protective social distancing measures and rigorous cleaning regimes – and latest data from Public Health England found that of the 107,406 cases reported between October 19 and October 25, gyms made up 2.8 per cent of reported Covid-19 cases.

In comparison, supermarkets made up 11.2 per cent, pubs or bars made up 7.4 per cent, restaurants or cafes made 7 per cent, and primary and secondary schools made 12.5 per cent.

To sign the national petition to keep gyms open, visit: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/333869