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Fitness Australia says governments should put peoples’ health and wellbeing above a drink at the pub

Fitness Australia says governments should put peoples’ health and wellbeing above a drink at the pub
May 23, 2020

Fitness Australia has welcomed comments made yesterday by NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro, that he’s “confident” gyms and fitness centres will reopen in as of some time in July.

However, with bars and restaurants in NSW already allowed to operate with up 10 patrons and set to be allowed to have 50 patrons from 1st June, the peak body is calling for governments to put the health and wellbeing of Australians above a drink at the pub.

Fitness Australia Chief Executive, Barrie Elvish is calling for state governments to allow gyms to open sooner than pubs and restaurants, saying a robust COVID Safety Plan Framework for the industry is already in place to ensure the health and safety of Australia’s 4 million gym users.

Elvish (pictured) today advised “Australia’s fitness industry is a $3 billion a year industry that employs more than 35,000 staff in over 5,000 facilities and businesses - the vast majority of which are on the eastern seaboard. Gym owners, operators and the industry are extremely frustrated that cafes, pubs, restaurants and hotels appear to be being given relaxed concessions, this is contrary to the Prime Minister’s national strategy launched two weeks ago and without proper safety plans in place.

“Fitness Australia this week released a COVID Safety Plan Framework, developed in conjunction with, and endorsed by, Occupational and Environment Physician Dr Andrea James. The Framework far exceeds any of the current government guidelines and aligns with Safe Work Australia and Australian Institute of Sport recommendations.

“Because of the misguided belief gyms are high risk, the industry has a greater incentive than any other industry to make sure their facility and staff follow and enforce a strict COVID Safety Plan.

“We have done this to demonstrate the industry is willing, and ready, to do whatever it takes to reopen and provide the community with the confidence their health and safety is protected in a gym environment. All our operators understand the health and commercial implications of not getting it right, which is why there is so much focus on having a robust plan.”

Elvish said Fitness Australia has been engaging with relevant state government authorities to get a ‘stamp of approval’ for the Framework, highlighting a one size fits all approach from key departments was not the right approach, explaining “we have been endeavouring to engage productively. However, with the exception of Queensland, we are experiencing some difficulties in having them understand the diverse range of exercise options available throughout the industry.

“Gyms as a term includes small yoga and Pilates studios, boutique gyms, 24-hour facilities, large multi-function facilities and leisure centres that include pools, childcares and in some cases cafes. Simply grouping the industry into a one size fits all approach, ignoring significant ops differences is causing confusion and uncertainty for operators and small business owners.”

Elvish said many Fitness Australia members, in line with the organisation’s guidelines, have already put their own strict protocols in place to enforce social distancing and hygiene.

He added “following the release of our COVID Safety Plan Framework, we’ve had business members develop their own protocols, including site and facility plans to limit the number of people. In many cases these plans are double 4 metre² per person - can the same be said for pubs and clubs?

“Putting the health and wellbeing of Australians first has never been more important. It’s essential the government prioritises this before the long-term economic cost and mental health impacts of COVID-19 become greater.”

Backing up their argument about gyms being safer that restaurants, Fitness Australia has highlighted that an analysis of the breakout of Coronavirus on the Ruby Princess which identified the virus as having been spread from the kitchens through the restaurants and not from its gym.

The Fitness Australia COVID Safety Plan framework provides general considerations for all businesses and operators in the fitness industry.

The COVID Safety Plan Checklist will be provided exclusively Fitness Australia members by the end of May.

Click here for more information. 

Related Articles

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16th May 2020 - Fitness Education Online founder wins at 2020 Australian Fitness Awards

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5th May 2020 - Campbelltown Aquafit Manager named Club Manager of the Year at 2020 Australian Fitness Awards

4th May 2020 - Fitness and wellness Industry organisations publish reopening guidance

2nd May 2020 - Fitness Australia announces first winners for the 2020 Australian Fitness Awards

1st May 2020 - Fitness Australia report shows massive impact of Coronavirus closures on the industry

28th April 2020 - Facing up to the Fitness Industry’s post lockdown challenges

23rd April 2020 - Fitness Australia says gyms can safely reopen within strict framework

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22nd April 2020 - Fitness Australia to host virtual events announcing 2020 Australian Fitness Awards winners

7th April 2020 - Two-thirds of the world’s fitness clubs are currently closed

2nd April 2020 - Fitness Australia encourages Australians to ‘Keep on Moving’

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