With community transmission clusters of COVID-19 on the rise in New South Wales, the NSW Premier has announced all gyms, including 24/7 facilities, must register their COVID Safety Plan and have a dedicated Hygiene Marshall on duty at all times during operational hours from 12.01am on Saturday 1 August.
While Fitness Australia understands this will be a challenge for many operators, it is important for the fitness industry to do whatever possible to safeguard the health and safety of all gym users while continuing to play a critical role in the health and wellbeing of the community.
Taking steps to assign a staff member as the dedicated Hygiene Marshal during operational hours will help to ensure gyms can remain open during this second wave of COVID-19. Further mass closures will have a devastating impact on the industry.
Fitness Australia CEO Barrie Elvish said while there has been reported cases in gyms, they can be a safe environment when strict procedures are clearly communicated and enforced.
“It is Fitness Australia’s understanding that there has been no cases of transmission within a gym environment, rather cases of people attending while infected such as yesterday’s Fitness First report,” Mr Elvish said.
“Gyms can be a COVID safe environment when strict procedures are enforced, and many facilities and businesses are already going above and beyond to ensure the health and safety of everyone – including robust contact tracing due to strict electronic access for members.
“We are urging all fitness professionals, gym and health club staff and members to do the right thing and abide by these new requirements to avoid further restrictions being imposed on the industry.”
Mr Elvish said Fitness Australia supported the government’s steps to limit community transmission, the importance of physical activity on mental health cannot be underestimated.
“It is pleasing to see the government acknowledge the role exercise plays in maintaining good mental health and wellbeing and this cannot be underestimated. Government, at all levels, need to keep a focus on promoting safe, frequent exercise, especially in these times of heightened community anxiety” Mr Elvish said.
“We understand the importance of limiting community transmission during this second wave outbreak. However, it is vital to keep exercise a priority and provide the community with a range of options when it comes to safe physical activity.”
“Beyond Blue and Lifeline are experiencing significant increase in calls from the community arising from COVID-19 related anxiety and general mental health issues.”
Further information about the latest restrictions can be found at https://www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/industry-guidelines/gyms-health-and-dance-studios-and-martial-arts-training-facilities
Fitness Australia is continuing to work closely with the NSW Department of Health and the Chief Health Officer. We will keep the fitness industry informed of further communication as we receive it.