BUNCRANA-based Sinn Féin councillor Jack Murray has said he has been inundated with messages of frustration from people keen to see the restoration of personal exercise.
Cllr Murray has called for the Government to reverse the decision to close gyms and golf clubs as part of the move to Level 5 of the Covid-19 restrictions.
“Keeping active and looking after your body and mind is a vital part of life and in these testing times it has never been more ‘essential’,” Cllr Murray said.
“That’s something which I strongly believe should be recognised by government.
“In recent days, I’ve been inundated with messages from people who are at a loss as to why they cannot be active in a pursuit which is safe and doesn’t spread the virus. They want an explanation as to why gyms, golf courses and fitness studios can’t be opened in a controlled, safe, manner.
“In these dark, dreary months, people are being forced to make huge personal sacrifices. Businesses are shut, social gatherings are prohibited and our very way life has changed massively.
“In the last lockdown, at least there was some comfort in being able to go for a nice walk in our parks, beaches or hills. In October and November, that simply isn’t an option.
“Depression, loneliness and social isolation are a serious danger to public health so we need to lead out in addressing that as a country and as a community.
“Rather than a blanket ban, I think there should be a campaign led by the Department of Health which promotes individual, safe exercise. Golf courses, gyms and sports clubs can provide that. Following strict and safe public health guidance healthy activity should be allowed recommence.”
The Inishowen representative says he has spoke to the Sinn Féin spokesperson on sport, Chris Andrews on the matter.
He said: “I’m glad that he’s campaigning for a wider more inclusive voice on the Return to Sport expert group and he is seeking a rationale for the decision to close gyms and golf courses.
“This is also something that I am going to strongly pursue. It’s important that people stay safe and that we look out for family, friends & neighbours and crucially, look after yourself.”