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Victorian Chief Health Officer’s comments ‘devastating’ to gym owners

Victorian Chief Health Officer’s comments ‘devastating’ to gym owners
September 7, 2020

Comments made yesterday by Victorian Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton that in relation to gyms and Coronavirus, that facilities are a “known high risk setting” and “cause outbreaks” have prompted further action by Fitness Australia.

With Professor Sutton having made his comments when speaking on the Victorian Government’s plans for easing Coronavirus lockdown measures, having prompted Fitness Australia to immediately issue a statement challenging his assertions, Fitness Australia Chief Executive, Barrie Elvish (pictured below) today followed up by writing an open letter to the Victorian Chief Health Officer, highlighting the measures taken by gyms to ensure hygiene and the peak body’s research that shows there has been no confirmed community transmissions in NSW gyms since their reopening in mid-June.

The open letter reads:

Dear Prof. Sutton,

Yesterday when speaking at the Victorian COVID roadmap press conference, and echoing the Premier, you stressed the importance of using data to make informed decisions yet, in the space of twenty seconds you repeated twice the  claims Gyms are a "known high risk setting” and “cause outbreaks”.

I know from myriad comments I received yesterday that your words were devastating to thousands of gym owners, exercise professionals, personal trainers and gym members across Victoria.

Devastating, because many owners, sole traders and employees see their livelihoods being destroyed through no fault of their own and despite endeavouring to work collaboratively with Victorian authorities.

Devastating, because, by definition, individuals working in the sector have the health and wellbeing of their members as their top priority and any suggestion otherwise is disparaging.

Devastating, because collectively the fitness sector across Australia has been working with all state governments and health departments to develop COVID-safe protocols designed to provide a safe and hygienic environment for gym members and minimise any risks associated with their return to exercise.

(These protocols, that have been privately acknowledged by Victorian Department of Health & Human Services officials as being the “gold standard” are working effectively in all other states and territories.)

Devastating, because data collected by Fitness Australia in NSW since reopening in mid-June showed more than seven million visits over 500 facilities with no confirmed community transmissions (“outbreaks”) to date, not one.

Given your comments about the importance of using data to make decisions, if you are aware of any contrary data showing gyms “cause outbreaks” please share it with us so that we can make our COVID-safe protocols even more effective.

I am not so imprudent to believe that at some time in the future there may be some community transmission within an exercise facility but the data to date indicates that with good protocols, and positive adherence to them by all stakeholders, gyms can be indeed low risk.

Yours sincerely,

Barrie Elvish
Fitness Australia

Related Articles

6th September 2020 - Fitness Australia challenges Victorian Chief Health Officer’s assertion that gyms ‘cause outbreaks’

6th September 2020 - Melbourne’s Stage 4 Coronavirus restrictions extended for two weeks as Chief Health Officer says ‘gyms are a high-risk setting’

3rd September 2020 - Victorian gym owners plan legal ‘class action’ to reopen gyms

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

31st August 2020 - Fitness and Lifestyle Group advises of redundancies amid restructure

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

28th August 2020 - Sydney CBD fitness club linked to new Coronavirus infections in NSW

24th August 2020 - Survey shows Australia gyms outperforming international counterparts

21st August 2020 - Fitness Australia secures support for exercise to be classed as an ‘essential service’ from Victorian shadow sport minister

19th August 2020 - FITREC highlights ‘heartbreaking’ impact of Victoria’s Coronavirus lockdown

14th August 2020 - ISPO identifies health orientation as key fitness trend in post Coronavirus-world

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

13th August 2020 - Les Mills plans to activate fitness industry’s COVID-19 recovery with global campaign

11th August 2020 - Fitness facilities at the crossroads and demanding new approaches

31st July 2020 - Melbourne gym hosts anti-mask conspiracy theorists meeting

29th July 2020 - OneMusic introduces fee relief for customers in the fitness and wellbeing sector

19th July 2020 - Without JobKeeper 60% of Australian fitness businesses will close in less than a month

16th July 2020 - Planet Fitness takes ‘vigorous steps’ to limit community transmission of Coronavirus

15th July 2020 - Campbelltown Aquafit assures members with recognition of its ‘Gold Standard’ COVID-19 compliance

23rd March 2020 - Fitness Australia calls for urgent government clarification around gym closures

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