The government should complement the vaccine rollout with a comprehensive public health campaign

 So, I believe there is a unique opportunity for our government to complement the vaccine

 So, I believe there is a unique opportunity for our government to complement the vaccine rollout with a comprehensive public health campaign, collaborating with the physical activity sector, that can begin to address some of the public health issues we face as a nation. 

The Government is now in receipt of more than £1.8 billion from the major supermarkets that have returned their business rates relief. That refund could support a major drive to get the nation active again, including creating the physical activity sector’s version of the ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ campaign – something that greatly benefited the hospitality sector during the summer, and also support wider tax and regulatory support for the facilities which power physical activity in the country. 

Furthermore, how can our health agencies work with fitness and leisure facilities in the community roll out of vaccines? Many facilities and their staff could be utilised in this national effort, and this could also provide an opportunity to engage thousands of people visiting these facilities for their jabs on wider advice and pathways to improve their overall health and wellbeing going forward.

The Government can depend on this sector to help improve our national health, both now and beyond this crisis. In fact, its dependency on this sector will no doubt need to be greater in the future as the understandable economic consequences of managing the crisis begin to be reconciled.

The Government knows that for every pound it spends on sport and physical activity, it gets almost four pounds in return: savings into the billions on serious physical and mental health conditions, healthcare, social care, diabetes care, dementia care, and preventing an estimated 30 million GP visits a year.  

The sector reaches far beyond any narrow definition historically afforded to it, and can support many of the wider issues our government has in its in-tray. 

This pandemic has forced a pause in our lives, with many of us reflecting on what matters to us, especially our personal physical and mental wellbeing, and that of our families. The vaccine gives us hope that COVID-19 can be controlled, and we should celebrate that. But alongside this, the Government should set an ambition to make us the most active nation we can be, in order to realise the economic, social, and health benefits that would follow. It would place health at the heart of our national renewal and unite us all around a common goal.

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