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Could Malta’s Gym Restrictions Suppress Our Biggest Weapon Against COVID-19?

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Gym goers and gym owners across Malta and Gozo are puzzled by the decision to bar unvaccinated persons from entering the premises.

“As gym owners, it is our duty to train both vaccinated and unvaccinated. Everyone deserves to train and we need to keep our business alive,” said Roland Sammut, a boxing coach with over a decade of experience in the field.

Many are concerned over discrepancies between the rules for gyms and other establishments like bars and restaurants, and the rules for schools across Malta, where teachers and students are not required to take the vaccine.

Educators, as well as students, spend significantly more time around each other, in contrast to a typical gym-goer, who attends the facility for a brief span of time. Moreover, there are no restrictions – only guidelines – for persons to limit contact with one another when attending a gym.

The move has puzzled many involved in the industry, particularly given evidence promoting exercise as a preventer of severe illness.

A study published by the British Medical Journal showed persons infected with COVID-19 who were consistently inactive had a greater risk of intensive care admission or even death.

The findings were mirrored by the CDC, who stated that obesity, alone, was associated with a threefold higher risk of hospitalisation and almost two-times higher risk of severe illness.

Malta is currently the most obese country in Europe, with only 38 % of adults deemed to have a “sufficient” level of physical activity.

Many would argue that people should be urged to engage in exercise regularly, regardless of vaccine status.

“Even though it bothers me that many are not vaccinated, it still wouldn’t stop me from hitting the gym,” said one fitness enthusiast.

“Without someone to push me, I’ve lost the will to work out,” said another.

With the number of gym attendees waning away, many fitness establishments are now also placed at financial risk. Skyrocketing numbers of infected persons already threaten regular attendance at training facilities. Could this, now, be another nail in the coffin?

Do you think restrictions should be imposed on the fitness industry?

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