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Gym owner calls for online protest over new NSW fitness club regulations

Gym owner calls for online protest over new NSW fitness club regulations
August 9, 2020

NSW gym owner has called for industry stakeholders to join in an online day of protest on Friday 14th August calling on NSW and Federal Government ministers, decision makers and influencers "to reverse or at the very least change the COVID Marshal rule to make it fairer".

Since 1st August, the NSW Government has required all gyms to have a 'COVID marshal' on site at all times to ensure COVIDSafe hygiene at all times.

Required to ensure all aspects of facilities' COVID-19 Safety Plans are maintained, the ruling effectively means that fitness facilities in NSW must be staffed at all times.

Highlighting the pressures that fitness clubs have endured during the Coronavirus crisis, Snap Fitness franchisee Dave McNamara has launched the 24hr Gym Industry website, where he has published a lengthy essay 'Enough is enough' emphasising that since reopening after March's Coronavirus shutdown "there has been virtually no transmission of COVID-19 inside gyms."

McNamara writes "this is remarkable considering the usage that we get as a collective industry (and) clearly proves that gyms - with all of the correct measures in place - prior to this latest restriction are LOW RISK.

"In the last month alone there have been hundreds of cases of community transmission linked to pubs and restaurants and yet these industries are where the government have been the weakest. Thanks to heavy lobbying by the pub industry they managed to negotiate a limit on capacity, group bookings and having a Covid Marshal in businesses that are always staffed anyway. All of which they could have implemented overnight and yet the government gave them a week and a half to do it.

"They gave us (gym operators. ed) just 48 hours to make a complete change to our business model. This just goes to show what the (NSW) Government thinks of our industry and that they have little to no understanding of what we do and how we do it.

"As we already know from Queensland gym owners, reducing trading hours means more members during peak times. If asked, we would have told the NSW Government that the safest option is allow gyms to continue to operate 24/7 thus spreading usage and having less people in the club at the same time."

McNamara goes on to contend that "staffing a gym will make NO DIFFERENCE to the number of new cases in the state (and that) the COVID Marshal rule is completely and utterly UNFAIR.

"All year our industry has been pushed around by the Government and vilified by the media. It’s time for the NSW 24 hour gym industry to stand up for itself. 

"Gym memberships across the country are already down by at least 30% on pre-covid numbers. The financial impact of this additional staffing requirement will see many gyms shut their doors permanently."

He also notes "gyms are operating to a COVIDSafe plan, have social distancing measures in place including signage and spacing equipment, gyms have audio and visual warnings about the COVIDSafe rules, gyms have ample disinfectant facilities including multiple disinfectant wipe stations and hand sanitiser stations, gyms require members to use a towel on equipment and gyms have very regular cleaning routines. We can also easily track every single person that visits facilities and the dates/times that they visited. 

"This is the bare minimum of what every operating Australian 24hr gym is currently doing in the fight against COVID-19. The Government say they are concerned that equipment won't be cleaned outside of staffed hours ... but I can't think of another industry that have gone to the same lengths of the 24hr gym industry. 

"We've been doing most of the above for years and have developed a culture amongst the users of our facilities through the rules we have developed. This a culture of cleanliness. Our members were following these rules well before the pandemic. 

"When was the last time, especially before the pandemic, that you went into a pub or restaurant and wiped down everything you touched before and after you used it?"

Online Protest on Friday 14th August
Going on to say that "the Government doesn't care, the media won't listen and our industry body is doing very little", McNamara has called for a day of protest on Friday 14th August.

Here, he is calling for gym owners, club staff and industry stakeholders to email, mail, Facebook message and call all of the key decision makers and influencers in the NSW and Federal Government asking them to reverse or at the very least change the COVID Marshal rule to make it fairer.

Providing an extensive list of ministerial contacts - including NSW Premier, Gladys Berejiklian; NSW Labor Leader, Jodi McKay and Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison - he notes “it's vital that this is a co-ordinated effort by the industry so here are few steps that you will need to take to make this happen.”

The site also provides letters, emails and messages to forward.

McNamara concludes “now is the time to act so that we can create a positive change for our industry.”

For more information go to www.24hrgymindustry.com.au/

About the author

Nigel Benton

Co-owner / Publisher, Australasian Leisure Management

Nigel Benton is the co-owner and publisher of Australasian Leisure Management, Australia and New Zealand’s only magazine for professionals in all areas of the leisure industry. Having established the magazine in 1997, shortly after his relocation to Australia, he has managed its readership rising to over 11,500 and its acceptance as the industry journal for professionals in aquatics, attractions, entertainment, events, fitness, parks, recreation, sport, tourism and venues.

As of 2020, he has launched the new Asian Leisure Business website.

Among a range of published works and features, his comments on a Blog (blogspot) from 2007 to 2011, when this website went live in its current form, may be interesting to reflect back on.

Click here to connect with him via LinkedIn.

Read more from this author

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