WELSH Conservatives are seeking assurances that gyms and leisure facilities will remain open throughout the winter to protect people’s mental and physical health.

The party’s Shadow Minister for Mental Health, James Evans MS, has written to the First Minister Mark Drakeford highlighting the importance of fitness centres – especially in light of the pandemic.

In the letter, Mr Evans said: “We have all now seen the evidence showing that previous lockdowns, firebreaks and controls have had a hugely negative impact on our nation’s physical and mental health, with a record number of people seeking support for their mental health over the last eighteen months.

“During previous lockdowns, many people were able to continue exercising outside with the warmer, lighter evenings, however, with the dark, cold nights this is not possible. Alongside this there is a concern about the safety of people exercising alone outside at this time of year.

“As part of your review process, is the Technical Advisory Cell able to review the evidence available on the spread of Covid-19 in these facilities, look what steps can be taken to reduce spread whilst keeping them open and see if this information can be made public?”

Mr Evans, who is also the Conservative MS for Brecon and Radnorshire, said: “Everybody’s mental health has taken a massive hit because of the pandemic and the thought of fresh restrictions looming will leave many across the country worrying – especially in the run-up to Christmas.

“Gyms, fitness centres and leisure facilities play an important role in boosting people’s mental and physical health, especially given everything we have been through in the last two years.

“With the weather taking a turn for the worse, nights drawing in and safety concerns about being outside in the dark, it is vital that every effort is made to keep them open throughout the winter and beyond.”