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Jacuzzis and steam rooms ruled out as Dunne vows to reopen only if gym safe

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A Ben Dunne gym interior

A Ben Dunne gym interior

A Ben Dunne gym interior

Jacuzzis, steam rooms and swimming pools are "a thing of the past" in Ben Dunne's network of gyms as a result of Covid-19. The businessman said that he will be doing well if half of his 10 gyms reopen due to his stance on safety.

Mr Dunne ruled out shared facilities like pools in any reopening scenario, because "you can't socially distance in them - it's impossible".

All 10 of Mr Dunne's gyms closed within hours of Leo Varadkar announcing the first wave of restrictions on March 12th and he admitted yesterday he doesn't know when his gyms will be reopening - saying that it could be as much as two years away. 

Mr Dunne's gyms employ 90 and have 53,000 members and he said: "We will only open up when it is safe to do so and I really don't know when that is going to be." 

The business recorded revenues of almost €14 million last year and enjoyed operating profits of €4.3 million, according to Mr Dunne.

"The business was going fairly well and I was happy with the performance and it was flattened out, for want of a better word, by the virus."

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Safety first: Ben Dunne wants to ensure staff and customers are safe before reopening his gyms

Safety first: Ben Dunne wants to ensure staff and customers are safe before reopening his gyms

Safety first: Ben Dunne wants to ensure staff and customers are safe before reopening his gyms

The Government's lifting of restrictions states that gyms can re-open from August 10th in a safe manner. But Mr Dunne said that he doesn't believe a two-metre rule is safe for anyone near someone running on a treadmill. 

"I must get over the first hurdle and that is how to make them safe and a piece of Perspex glass is not the answer," he said.

"It took me 20 years to build the business up to 10 gyms. I don't think in my lifetime - I'm 71 now - I will have 10 gyms re-opened.

He predicted: "I think I will be doing well if half the gyms re-open because of the stance I am taking on safety because I do think that people's lives do matter."

Irish Independent