After six months of no revenue and clamour from members anxiously awaiting weight and cardio sessions, gym operators say it is time for the government to relax restrictions on the industry.
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley will update the country this Saturday on the government’s fight against COVID-19.
During his last media conference on October 10, Rowley indicated that the government would consider leniency to operate some sectors once there was no significant spike in cases over the two-week period, which ends on Saturday.
At a CARPHA conference on Wednesday, Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram said the government may be in a position to look at the reopening of gyms, cinemas, beaches and allowing in-house dining in restaurants once cases continue to decline.
Chelsea Ramnarine Singh, director of the Anand Low Price Group of Companies (ALPG) told Guardian Media that it is time for gyms to reopen, as the industry and clients are suffering.
ALPG operates Health and Fitness Gyms which has branches in La Romaine, Gulf City Mall, Belle Vue, Fyzabad, Debe and Princes Town.
“It is time to reopen gyms. Gyms promote health and well-being and should have never been lumped with bars and restaurants. The industry has suffered tremendously over the past six months, and we at Health & Fitness Gyms look forward to the day we can open our doors to members. Health and Fitness gyms remain committed to serving its members and as such our services will be readily available for them,” Ramnarine Singh said.
Despite the significant loss of revenue, she said there would be no reduction in staff.
Central Athletic Club (CAC), which operates two gyms in Chaguanas and C3 Centre in Ste Madeleine, will not reduce staff either.
CAC CEO Rishi Tripathi said the gym industry employs thousands of people, ranging from trainers to maintenance staff as the closures severely battered the sector.
“We are silently hopeful and optimistic that during the Honourable Prime Minister’s deliberations on reopening certain sectors, that the health and fitness industry is given significant consideration for many reasons,” Tripathi said.
Several World Health Organisation (WHO) officials labelled gyms as one of several high-risk zones for the spread of COVID-19. However, WHO also highlighted the socio-economic problems of a lockdown.
Tripathi said while CAC understands the importance of keeping citizens safe, many first-world countries deem the economic effects as disastrous as the dangers of COVID-19. As such, he believes there is a need for a careful balance to reopening.
“Central Athletic Club took steps to sanitize equipment regularly, enforce social distancing between our cardio machines, enforce temperature checks, sanitization upon entry and discontinue certain classes until further notice. We shall continue to enforce such measures should we receive the green light to reopen.”
Likewise at Health and Fitness Gyms, Ramnarine Singh said they would ensure that the reopening of the strength and cardio section will be at a limited capacity to maintain proper social distancing.
It means members would use every other available equipment.
Also, there will be a stricter cleaning schedule, an increase in hand sanitizer stations and sinks with soap will be available at entrances.
While members are anxious to return, Ramnarine Singh expects some scepticism from members given that COVID-19 is still around. However, she said people must adapt to the changing climate and be able to live responsibly with the virus. She said it is not unique to the gym environment, but relevant throughout life as we know it.