SA Premier Steven Marshall has announced gyms and fitness facilities across South Australia will close from midnight tonight for two weeks, in a move the industry’s peak association says is unnecessary, disappointing and counterproductive given the link between people’s mental health and wellbeing and exercise is indisputable.
Fitness Australia CEO Barrie Elvish said recent member data showed across 1,270 national facilities more than 24 million visits had taken place since gyms reopened in all states and territories (excluding Victorian shutdowns) and during that time only 19 COVID cases had been linked to a fitness facility.
“We appreciate keeping South Australians safe and healthy is a high priority, but gyms are not part of the problem. Closing gyms now is going to exacerbate South Australians’ sense of wellbeing,” Mr Elvish said.
Today’s decision to close gyms and fitness facilities tonight is a knee-jerk reaction that is not based on any data or evidence.
“Fitness Australia data shows the chance of being infected in a fitness facility in less than 1 in a million, or 0.00008% to be exact. A figure that is statistically insignificant and shows gyms are a safe environment to exercise.”
“We need to focus on the long-term health of all South Australians and to do that, we need to give people access to a COVID-Safe gym.
“It’s disappointing and totally illogical to see pubs and restaurants, which are known places for community transmission, are still allow to trade and welcome up to 100 people at a time. This decision flies in the face of international and national evidence.”
Mr Elvish questioned why gyms had been targeted to close rather than allow people to exercise at a safe distance, like they can when still enjoying a meal or beer.
“The SA Government has given us a blanket direction to close from midnight tonight, rather than consider the size and ability to socially distance,” Mr Elvish said.
“Why can’t the same 1 person per four square metres apply to our industry in the same way it has for hospitality, clubs and private gathering in a licensed venue?
“Let’s not forget either that, unlike any other sector, fitness facilities have the ability in the unlikely event of a member attending gym with COVID, to advise relevant health authorities within an hour of the names and contact details of every other person in the facility at the time and following the visitation period.
“Looking after our health has suddenly become less of a priority than catching up for a beer at the pub. We are urgently seeking a meeting with the Chief Public Health Officer and health authorities immediately to overturn this decision.”