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ExerciseNZ helps countries around the world prepare for life after Coronavirus

ExerciseNZ helps countries around the world prepare for life after Coronavirus
July 23, 2020

The experience of fitness operators in New Zealand in reopening and operating in a post-Coronavirus environment is helping other nations’ exercise industry organisations and registration bodies to prepare to open fully and start returning to business as normal.

New Zealand was one of the first countries in the world to re-open its economy significantly after lockdown and Exercise Association of New Zealand (ExerciseNZ) Chief Executive Richard Beddie sees that it is in a unique position to share leanings with others, so they can operate safely and in a way that supports physical activity levels.

Beddie is part of weekly Zoom sessions with international exercise associations, international gym chains, industry experts and the World Health Organization, with more than 20 countries taking part.

He explains “we were one of the first nations in the world to open up our gyms and fitness facilities so we have provided other countries a framework or model how they could reopen, when they are ready.

“Our framework is all evidence based, rather than just a list of good ideas. I have also presented to the international group our re-opening statistics both at alert level two and level one which, overall, show a quick rebound for gyms, yoga studios and recreation facilities.

“Part of the problem earlier on was mixed messages from governments when it came to mask use. However, we stuck with the evidence and advocated for them in settings where physical social distancing couldn't be maintained for prolonged contact times such as personal training.

“We have been proven correct by recent support from WHO, Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and multiple government health departments that now include masks as a part of their COVID-19 controls.

“While the risk of community transmission and background virus level varies significantly between countries, the fundamental tools at our disposal don't change. They include:  physical distancing, contact tracing, engineering controls and PPE.   

“We’ve been able to share the framework we developed for New Zealand, and part of it are now mirrored around the globe, which we are very proud of."

“We are now attempting to engage with the NZ Ministry of Health around what protocols may be required should any further level changes take place - the key is we have time to plan, so have been doing it,” Beddie says. 

Image: Richard Beddie.

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