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VIC Active questions State Government’s motives for imposing continued restrictions on Victoria’s fitness industry
By continuing to impose severe operating limitations for the fitness industry in Victoria, industry body VIC Active are “drawing the conclusion” that the state government wants the fitness industry "to collapse in Victoria".
VIC Active Spokesperson, Tim Schleiger states “we can open but with such severe limitations that means we are operating at a loss.
“Given how the industry has been treated by the State Government - forced to adhere to an entirely different set of rules to any other industry, despite clear evidence that fitness centres are COVIDSafe – we can only draw that conclusion.
“Under current restrictions we estimate more than 80% of business owners will operate at a considerable loss should they decide to reopen on Monday. COVID-19 lockdowns have wiped out many operator’s cash reserves.
Schleiger asks “why should fitness centres only be allowed to have a maximum of 10 people per room – no matter the size of the venue?
“The larger gyms could operate with around 200 people under the one person to 1.5 metre2 rule. But gyms are considered high risk and limited to one person per 8 metre2.
“This makes no sense and is set to destroy businesses and worse – severely damage the physical and mental wellbeing of millions of Victorians.”
Schleiger adds “when the State Government recently decoupled the 14-day case average in Victoria from the staged reopening of businesses it became clear that it was no longer basing its thinking on the “best medical advice” and “the data”.
“As the Premier say it’s now about the story or narrative behind the cases. It’s now about the optics.
“Under the Staged reopening plan Victoria’s metropolitan region, we would be sitting on Stage 2 – and on the cusp of entering the 'COVID Normal' stage.
“Regional Victoria would have been on “COVID Normal” for several weeks – given its 14-day rolling “case average continues to be zero.
“Melbourne’s 14 day-day rolling case average is 1.7 – significantly less than the five cases that would have triggered Stage 2.
“Fitness centres would have been open under Stage 2 with reasonable limits and with best practice COVIDSafe plans. Importantly, they would have been able to open to extent that patrons would have been served AND business owners would have been at least at break-even trading levels.”
The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) website currently sets the following COVIDSafe principles for business:
• Ensure physical distancing (1.5 metres)
• Wear a face mask
• Practice good hygiene
• Keep good records and act quickly if staff become unwell
• Avoid interactions in close spaces
• Create workforce 'bubbles'
All businesses must have a COVIDSafe plan for onsite operations.
VIC Active is seeking answers to the following questions from the Victorian Government and DHSS:
• Can they point to one infection outbreak around Australia that can be directly linked to a fitness centre? Does DHHS now acknowledge that the cluster they threw up in Hallam at a recent meeting was a complete furphy and had nothing to do with a gym – other than people who were infected happened to be members of a local gym?
• Are they aware of the successful operations of fitness centres around Australia since COVID-19 swept into Australia? Fitness Australia has confirmed an infection rate of less than one case per million visits in NSW gyms.
• We have been told that Victoria’s contract tracing is now the best in Australia. Should that give Victorian’s confidence that if a one-in-a-million infection occurs, as it has in NSW, then we should be able to effectively manage it?
• Do they acknowledge the link between regular attendance at fitness centres and beneficial physical and mental health outcomes – for everyone concerned?
• How can we convince our customers – particularly the aged, people recovering from surgery or other health conditions, those who are overweight, vulnerable women, etc – that outdoor fitness activity – in public view - is good for them? Does the Victorian Government now acknowledge that this concept was a complete disaster and is an unworkable joke? Will the Victorian Government negotiate with Councils on behalf of owners because permit requests are being refused or on a go-slow?
• The Premier has said on several occasions that fitness centres are different because they operate in indoor settings. If he and DHHS insist that we can open but with such severe limitations that means we are operating at a loss surely it is time to announce a support package to keep the industry alive?
Schleiger highlights that “fitness centre owners have moved well beyond anger at their treatment by the Andrews Government. Sadly, many operators are closing their doors and have given up.”
For more information on VIC Active go to www.vicactive.org
For more information on COVIDSafe planning go to www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au/industry-restrictions-roadmap-metro-melbourne
3rd November 2020 - Melbourne fitness facilities prepare for post-lockdown reopening
28th October 2020 - 9th November reopening for Victoria gyms but with COVIDSafe restrictions
19th October 2020 - Reopened fitness clubs see more than two-thirds of members return
19th October 2020 - Victorian Premier omits ‘high-risk’ gyms from state’s reopening plans
13th October 2020 - Vic Active continues to call for reopening of indoor fitness centres
28th September 2020 - No change to fitness centre restrictions as Victorian Government eases lockdown measures
24th September 2020 - Aquatic, fitness and sport facilities headed for membership crisis
18th September 2020 - Operator questions Fitness Australia’s 26th October reopening claim for Victorian gyms
14th September 2020 - VIC Active considers Government’s mental health support package to be tokenistic
11th September 2020 - VIC Active claims government’s proposal for outdoor training is impractical
7th September 2020 - Victorian Chief Health Officer’s comments ‘devastating’ to gym owners
3rd September 2020 - Victorian gym owners plan legal ‘class action’ to reopen gyms
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