A YOGA teacher who runs a studio in Bolton has launched a petition calling for studios to remain open in Tier 3.
Indoor group activities and exercise classes are not allowed to take place under Tier 3 rules.
However, Madeline Diaz and fellow instructors believe that yoga classes should remain open, as it is a meditative practise rather than a physical exercise class.
The petition has already received over 8,500 signatures.
Madeline operates The Mill Studios in Halliwell business park, as well as sites in Preston and Chorley.
The Bolton studio only opened in January this year but it was forced to close on March 16.
The studio reopened in August until the start of the second lockdown in November. Since then it has remained closed.
Madeline has been running online classes to pay her instructors, who are all self-employed so cannot be furloughed.
Madeline Diaz said: “When we were open our clients felt extremely safe, we did temperature checks, clients wore masks when they arrived and left, everything was sanitised before and after classes.
“We were running on a third capacity to enable two metres social distancing and everyone was required to bring their own equipment with them to class.
“There’s a feeling of deep frustration when you know that you can operate safely. It seems extremely unfair that we cannot open.
“The petition has received support from the UK Yoga Collective lead by Julia McGoldrick and governing bodies UK Yoga alliance, together with studio owners across the country to create a united front.
“Originally gyms were not meant to open in tier 3, but they managed to come together and got their voices heard. Yoga studios need to do the same.
“Obviously it’s a shame we now have a Tier 4 and people have been asking if we should carry on with the petition, but Bolton has been in Tier 3 for eternity.
“I think we need to look at individual circumstances and focus on things at a county level, Bolton has made a conscious effort to get the rate down, yet we are still being punished.
“It’s frustrating as the goal posts are always changing.”
Madeline added: “The mental health aspect of yoga is huge. Practising yoga allows your mind to switch off, the therapeutic benefits are really important.
“Particularly for key workers yoga can really help them cope with stress and anxiety. It is a form of much needed escapism.”