OWNERS of a seafront sauna have warned they might not ever reopen after being forced to close by public health officials.

On Thursday, Beach Box Sauna at Sea Lanes in Madeira Drive, Brighton, was told to shut down leaving owners, Liz Watson and Katie Bracher, “devastated.”

Public health officials have announced saunas must close across the country as ‘transmission of Covid-19 is unclear” within the facilities.

“We could turn them into drinking booths, reopening as a pub selling bottles of vodka in the saunas,” co-owner Ms Bracher said.

“But that would not fit into healthy, outdoor, wellness message.”

Beach Box is an all year round, wood-fired public beach sauna wellness centre, based on Brighton Beach.

The owners say the company faces total closure if the restrictions remain and are calling on the government to investigate the “oversight in guidelines”.

Co-owner Ms Watson said: “Whilst we understand why commercial saunas might need to remain closed in indoor, humid settings, or where social distancing can’t take place, we have attempted to impress on Public Health that we are an outdoor facility offering private hire of our three saunas to households only, with full disinfection and ventilation between use.

“We are a unique sauna spa in this way and urge them to recognise this.

“If we miss our winter season, we will more than likely have to close for good. There will be hundreds of residents who will be very distressed to lose us. Please help.”

The owners say that £74 million revenue is being lost in the UK spa industry each month while saunas and steam rooms remain closed.

The order to close was given by Brighton and Hove City Council officials, directed by government guidance.

A council spokesman said: “We’ve been in discussion with the sauna with regards to the control measures it has implemented and understand they only accept bookings from single households at any one time, limit groups to six and clean down surfaces between use.

“However, the government stance is clear that all commercial saunas should not be operating at this time. The national public health guidance is based on the fact that little is known about the survival and transfer of Covid is a sauna environment.

“We have checked this concern with our public health team and unfortunately until more is known about Covid, we do not feel that it is appropriate for the sauna to remain open to the public. This decision has not been arrived at lightly.”