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Fitness Australia provides update on meeting with Victoria’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer

Fitness Australia provides update on meeting with Victoria’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer
October 12, 2020

Fitness Australia has followed on the meeting it, and other representatives of the fitness industry in Victoria, had with the state’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health and Human Services staff and government officials tasked with working with the sport and recreation sector to develop appropriate COVIDSafe protocols for the re-opening of exercise facilities.

The meeting was designed to enable all parties in attendance to gain a better understanding of Victorian Government thinking, particularly on why government representatives kept referring to “gyms” as being high risk or the “cause of outbreaks” and what safety and hygiene protocols could be agreed to address any legitimate concerns.

Writing on the Fitness Australia website, Rachel Ely today advised “Fitness Australia brought to the discussion lessons learned from all other Australian states and international experiences.

“The talks were respectful, educational and generally positive in context. Government officials gained a better understanding of what ‘gyms’ encapsulate, from small low activity yoga studios to large Council-run leisure centres. There was general agreement that gyms with COVID-Safe protocols in place do not have to be high risk as well as acknowledgment of the significant physical and mental health issues Victorians were experiencing and the economic costs being borne by 1,500 small businesses and 35,000 people employed in the sector in Victoria.

“The meeting finished with a request from the Deputy CHO for Fitness Australia to provide his office with a Victoria specific COVID-Safe proposal and a categorisation of all gym activities ranging from minimal risk to high risk.

“In response, a commitment was given that all the requested information would be given due consideration. The specific Victorian plan included additional protocols such as mandated temperature checks for all staff and gym visitors, the provision of masks and gloves, class sizes that reflected activity levels and much greater social distancing; all unique to Victoria. The categories covered the full range of activities from a minimal risk of supervised outdoor groups through to indoor high intensity classes.”

Ely went on to advise that, as of “last Friday evening, Fitness Australia received the ‘considered response’ that unfortunately gives the Victorian fitness sector, its businesses, employees and 900,000 gym members little hope. A situation exacerbated by recent comments from the Premier that restrictions may not be relaxed as soon as had been anticipated but conversely pleading with Victorians not to give up hope.

“The fitness sector has been mislabelled as high risk, the cause of outbreaks, dirty, unsafe and many other pejoratives unfairly. The sector has demonstrated in every other Australian jurisdiction that it can work effectively with state health departments to implement COVID-Safe social distancing and hygiene protocols. Any suggestion to the contrary is disingenuous, and frankly offensive, given that the basis for the industry is founded on improving the health and wellbeing of millions of Australians.

“It seems that the Victorian Government has entered into a period of stasis and/or paralysis through over analysis.”

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30th August 2020 - Fitness Australia calls for Victorian Government to reclassify health and fitness facilities as an ‘essential service’ 

25th August 2020 - Fitness Australia announces partnership with hygiene product business Clean Life

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13th August 2020 - Fitness Australia counters ‘misinformation’ that suggests gyms are a hotspot for COVID-19

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