Ireland Active which represents the leisure, health and fitness sector in Ireland has called on the Government to consider 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.
The facilities cater for an estimated 550,000 adults who exercise in a normal week in gyms and a further 300,000 who swim in pools across the country.
These activities have now come to a shuddering halt.
There have already been significant temporary job losses and this will be exacerbated by the fact that many of the businesses need to maintain considerable operating costs despite the shutdowns.
There is an immediate shock impact for the industry but it also jeopardises long-term business viability in a sector that generates an estimated €500 million for the Irish economy each year.
Ireland Active has asked for a variety of supports from Government which include payment breaks for VAT payments and Local Authority Rates; relief from PRSI payments and water charges; assistance with providing relief on mortgage, loan and rent payments; and business support measures including employment supports, reduction of VAT to 0 per cent 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.
“Like so many industry sectors, the leisure, health and fitness industry has been particularly hard hit by the current Covid-19 pandemic,” said Ireland Active CEO Conn McCluskey.
“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 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.”
Conn McCluskey will feature in the coming days in our Leadership Series of Interviews with Members of the Sport for Business community.
Image credit: Sport for Business