GYMS will be able to open in Herefordshire regardless of what tier of restrictions the county is placed in once lockdown ends.

On December 2, coronavirus restrictions in England will go back to a tiered system, but unlike before, gyms and leisure centres can reopen in all three tiers.

For Halo Leisure, which runs leisure centres in Herefordshire, bosses are gearing up to open doors at the centres in Hereford, Leominster, Ledbury and Leominster once again on Wednesday after closing on November 5.

Alex Haines, a regional manager for the not-for-profit organisation, said: "We want to be open as opposed to close, but there's two strands to it. We need to be open because we have to pay bills and be able to function.

"We are a charity and we're not-for-profit and we've got to make the books balance. There's the other side to it where it's all about mental health, people want to exercise and it's their release."

He added: "We've made everything as safe and as clean as we possibly can. We had a rigid system of cleaning stuff down, and the customers have been excellent at cleaning before and after on all pieces of kit they've used. I think we're a pretty safe environment to be in.

"It was a bitter bill to swallow when we had to shut down."

Halo Leisure, which is a registered charity, said Hereford Leisure Pool and The Bromyard Centre will remain closed for the rest of the year as repair work continues.

Mr Haines, who has worked at the site in Holmer Road since 1988, said the company was still battling with a big fall in customer numbers.

"The footfall is greatly reduced with people coming back to facilities. It was growing, don't get me wrong, it was going in the right direction but slowly.

"I expect other facilities will be much the same. You get those people who no matter what when you open the doors will come running back because they're desperate to use the gym.

"But there is a lot of people who are very worried about whatever they do at the moment because they're worried about coronavirus, which is exactly right.

"But they are going to stay away from leisure centres and any other facilities as well.

"Then there's a big chunk in the middle who are just undecided. Those people are slowly trickling back in, but we want more people coming in than they are.

"It's going to be a long, slow process to get back up to speed."

Like gyms, swimming pools are also expected to reopen next week.

The government’s guidance said: “All businesses and venues that are open are expected to follow Covid-19 secure guidelines to protect customers, visitors and workers. In all tiers, the following businesses and venues can remain open:

"Certain leisure and sporting facilities such as gyms, sports courts and facilities, leisure centres, fitness and dance studios, golf courses, swimming pools, riding centres, outdoor playgrounds – subject to relevant social contact rules in each tier.

“Indoor group activities and classes should not take place at tier three.”