Slimming World classes are returning this week with additional safety measures after five months of lockdown and virtual classes.

Social distancing, extra hygiene measures and protective 'sneeze screens' are some of the new things that have been brought in to reduce the spread of coronavirus.

Sessions are 15 minutes shorter than usual to accommodate all members with numbers limited to specific time slots which members must pre-book with a maximum of 25 to 30 members.

Seating in the group sessions are spaced out to ensure adequate social distancing is maintained.

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All members and consultants are urged to wear face coverings to protect themselves during groups and to sanitise their hands before and during the groups and wipe down surfaces.

These are some of the measures being brought in at Slimming World classes this week

Plastic 'sneeze screens' protect those taking payment from members and as they step on the scales. And people with coronavirus symptoms, such as a temperature, cough or loss of sense of smell or taste, are urged to stay at home.

And there's one big rule change that is different to the usual sessions.

Members will have to keep their shoes ON while weighing.

Some members were concerned that the weight of their shoes might impact on their performance on the scales.

One joked that their shoes "weighed half a stone" after lockdown weight gains.

Another member added: "Am I right in thinking that my flip flops can weigh up to a stone?"

Other measures include:

Members are asked to record their own progress with their own pens and to bring their own drink to sessions in a flask, bottle or can, as kitchen facilities are shut for now.

Face coverings are necessary in Slimming World groups too

A spokesperson for Slimming World said: "Our virtual groups have been a lifeline of support for Slimming World members, and yet we know that the majority of our members are impatient to get back to the motivational power and accountability of coming to a real-life group.

"So while it’s clear that life won’t return to normal for some time, we’re delighted that the easing of lockdown in many areas means that during August and September our consultants and members will be starting to return safely to their much-loved Slimming World groups in the heart of communities, with the first groups coming back together in-person after nearly five months apart from August 10.

"As well as being able to provide the very best weight-loss support, the health and well being of our members and consultants is our absolute priority.

"This means members will find a few things have changed in our groups to ensure that they and everyone else who returns to Slimming World does so feeling as safe, confident and comfortable as they possibly can.

"This includes appropriate social distancing, hygiene measures and shorter sessions, which we’ll be asking members to book in to before attending.

Slimming World groups are back - with extra measures after the coronavirus pandemic

"All Slimming World consultants are completing a full risk assessment along with the venues in which they are running groups to comply fully with the relevant government and local authority guidance to keep groups safe.

"However, what hasn’t changed are all of the special things that make the biggest difference to members’ long-term success, including our Extra Easy healthy eating plan and expert weight-loss support from a consultant who’s lost weight themselves, and the weekly group will be just as inspiring, motivating and fun-filled as it has always been."

Slimming World's spokesperson added that with thousands of groups across the UK and Ireland, "we're all keen to get back to supporting happier and healthier communities."

There's no universal approach with reopening, with different guidance and local regulations to take into account.

Where they are unable to open a real-life group, they will continue to offer virtual support online.