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Government’s hypocrisy about health

Was it fair to reopen pubs but not gyms?


by: Adam Christian

DISCLAIMER: This article contains the personal views of the author on politics. It is here because we like good argumentative articles (like this one) and we are ensuring that everyone's opinion can be heard on political issues. Nonetheless, those views expressed in the article are not necessarily represented by the University of Aberdeen or The Gaudie Student Newspaper.


The year 2020 has been marked by Covid-19. Its effect on everyone, its exposition of the fragility of our government, and the importance of physical health are things that will not be easily forgotten.


Governments all around the world have been trying to stop this virus from spreading at all costs. Preventing the collapse of hospitals being the main concern.


When Boris Johnson tested positive for Coronavirus in late March, he gave a speech highlighting the importance of exercise and maintaining one’s health in the face of this pandemic. He encouraged citizens “to take more and even unlimited amounts of outdoor exercise.”


The British government then produced ads to get people moving and improve their health as a means to fight this virus. Indeed, evidence shows that the healthier individuals are, the less likely it is for them to suffer from and transmit the virus. And though this was a step forward, the government almost immediately took two steps backwards.

Photo courtesy of Anastase Maragos via Unsplash

In June 2020 bars, restaurants and pubs were re-opened - which among others have helped the A&E services to cramp up, in a time when all hands are needed to save the lives of the vulnerable. With that, the government unleashed perhaps one of the largest causes for A&E overload.


These same pubs will worsen the health of the people they serve, and the people who choose to get drunk will be less likely to adhere to social distancing regulations.


Hence, we saw the spike in Aberdeen which was linked directly to a pub.

In the face of all this, gyms were not re-opened, while pubs remained open. Gyms were closed due to the nature of multiple people sharing equipment, this made sense. What did not make sense was to preach about improving health, to suggest that this pandemic is a “wake up call” and that we must take it upon ourselves to get fit because even though gym machinery and equipment is regularly cleaned by staff and customers, and that standard has only improved in the last year, gyms eventually were not reopened in June 2020.


Gym equipment is incredibly expensive, moreover, it has become exceedingly scarce in the last 12 months. For the majority of citizens, public gyms are the only safe option. In light of this, the cards were clearly stacked against those who wanted to get fit but for any reason could not use outdoor gyms or pursue other outdoor sports activities.


2017’s World’s Strongest Man Eddie Hall took it upon himself to call out the British MPs and tell them the mental as well as physical benefits of exercise, and the hypocrisy in opening pubs while keeping gyms and pools closed.


Data collected by Public Health England in October 2020, it shows that gyms may have caused 2.8% (maximum) of the total COVID-19 cases, while pubs and bars 7.4%.

​ It should not take the word of just athletes to convince the government to take the right steps, it is the responsibility of the government to provide this service to its citizens. The steps that the UK Government has taken shows that their main concern is fiscal, and not the health of its citizens, as pubs are infinitely more profitable than gyms.


So why write this now, six months later? Because history may repeat itself, we are now in another national lockdown. A new, more potent, more deadly variant of Coronavirus is spreading, and our health needs to be a priority this time.

The article is an entry to the 2021 Writing Competition of The Gaudie International.

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