Eased gym restrictions not ‘viable’: fitness industry boss
AS QUEENSLAND gyms get the green light to reopen to up to 20 members at a time today, Fitness Australia is rallying the State Government to further relax restrictions to the same extent as RSLs and surf clubs.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk moved forward Stage 2 of the roadmap to ease state restrictions to midday today, almost two weeks earlier than the original date of June 12.
Fitness Australia chief executive Barry Elvish said the peak fitness body welcomed the Premier's announcement, but said it was not "commercially viable" for the "vast majority" of clubs to reopen to just 20 people.
He said though gyms were allowed, he did not believe many of the larger operators would actually reopen under the eased restrictions, and would today pitch a plan to allow up to 20 people per room.
Mr Elvish said Fitness Australia had worked intensively over recent weeks to develop a plan to allow gyms to reopen in a COVID-safe environment, but urged operators wait for the outcome of Fitness Australia's pitch to the State Government and chief health officer this afternoon.
"We hope with the plan we put to Queensland's chief health officer, for 20 per room rather than 20 per venue, that will make it commercially viable," Mr Elvish said.
"We understand why the government has come out with the announcement of 20 people, to give facilities at least a heads up … you need to have staff on board, equipment sufficiently safe and spaced to maintain social distancing, undergo a deep clean.
"Our recommendation is to just wait 24 hours in the anticipation that we can come to an agreement with the Queensland Government to go to a more relaxed 20 per venue.
"We are meeting at 1pm today."
Yesterday, Annastacia Palaszczuk announced from midday today Queenslanders could enjoy unrestricted travel across Queensland and venues such as RSLs and surf clubs could reopen to 20 patrons per room, while still following COVID-19 protocols.
Mr Elvish said Fitness Australia represented the "majority of the gym sector" including 2000 businesses Australia-wide, 20,000 exercise professionals and 5000 students.
Mr Elvish said the fitness industry was worth $3 billion across Australia and employed 35,000 people. He said nationwide there were about 4500 gyms, which had suffered a "horrendous" impact due to COVID-19.
He said restrictions had been devastating for those employed in the industry, and for professionals and members who had missed out on the social engagement associated with a gym.
"Exercise benefits for physical and mental health have fallen by the wayside," Mr Elvish said.
"As an industry we fully appreciate understand and accept the need for closures … to get virus under control."
Mr Elvish said when gyms were originally forced to shut doors in March, they were advised they would likely not reopen until after September.
"Now on the first day of winter we are seeing some rays of sunshine," he said.
Mr Elvish said many gyms had already used the downtime to ensure they were ready to reopen to members as soon as possible.
"A lot of gyms and individual personal trainers have been running programs online and engaged through a virtual training program," he said.