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Independent gym owners urge Victorian Government to allow gyms to re-open when Stage 4 restrictions conclude

Independent gym owners urge Victorian Government to allow gyms to re-open when Stage 4 restrictions conclude
September 1, 2020

With the Victorian Government set to announce measures to ease its Stage 4 Coronavirus lockdown measure, independent gym operators around the state are demanding that they be allowed to re-open with COVIDSafe plans in place from 14th September.

With Victoria in the fifth week of a six-week lockdown, the statement - released on behalf of 20 independent owners of more than 50 gyms across the state - highlights how the health and well-being of hundreds of thousands of Victorians revolves around accessing gyms and health facilities, which are some of the cleanest and most sanitary public environments.

In a statement released today, the group advise "after a second eight-week period of lockdown, the physical and mental health of Victorians is suffering.

"Calls to LifeLine have spiked a further 22% during the second lockdown, with up to 3000 calls a day, reflecting the toll the restrictions are taking on households.

"Gyms are central to health and well-being, but they are also important social destinations and community centres for many people. With appropriate infection control and social distancing gyms must be able to open and help their members regain balance in their lives.

"We also know that the virus preys on the vulnerable. It’s incumbent on the population to stay as healthy as possible to defend against the virus - and accessing the gym is a critical part of that."

Emphasising that the freedom to exercise in a supervised environment with professional management is vital for the mental health of Victorians, the group points to the anomaly that bottle shops have been able to remain open during the current lockdown.

Pointing out that gyms are safer than retail outlets, the group advise “gyms were already tightly regulated by strict sanitary and hygiene protocols before the pandemic (and) those measures have been strengthened as part of clear and concise COVID-19 safe plans.

“(With) most of Victoria COVID-19 clear - particularly in rural and regional centres - gym lockdowns in those locations simply don’t make sense.”

The statement also highlights that independent gyms are small businesses and sole traders adversely impacted by lockdown restrictions and that they and their employees are “feeling the pinch”.

The 20 independent gym owners on whose behalf the statement was issued represent more than 500 staff – including personal trainers, Pilates instructors, physiotherapists and clinical massage practitioners – are a significant part of the broader industry in Victoria which comprises more than 45,0000 people in more than 5,000 sites.

The group’s statement concludes “closing down gyms and fitness centres is an easy option for the Government but the damage being done is incalculable and getting worse.

“The after-effects will last longer and cost more if we remain closed for an extended period.”

Image: Gym closures are impacting the mental wellbeing of Victorians.

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