While some non-essential businesses get the green light to reopen their doors, gym owners feel like they’ve been left in the dark, with no indication about when they can welcome clients once more.
Lovin Malta spoke to concerned gym owners across the islands about the state of limbo they’re in.
“This is our gym. This is where people come as part of our daily, weekly routines to keep physically active. To keep healthy. To keep our rehabilitation on track. To recover from injuries. To stay prepared for the demands of our sports. To stay prepared for our daily lives. To keep our mental health in check,” Tina De Martino, founder of Scram Gym, said.
Non-essential businesses like gyms, pools, cinemas and retail shops were banned from 10th March to curb a spike in COVID-19 infections. This week, retail stores were allowed to open for business while restaurants can open until 5pm.
Organised sports can be reintroduced as of 10th May, but gyms, despite asking health authorities for a clear plan, were not told if they can reopen come May.
“Go and ask the athlete one month away from a gold medal, whether her time at the gym is non-essential. Go and ask the lady suffering from severe obesity and heart disease whether her professionally guided training programme is not essential. Go and ask the gentleman whose hip pain has left him unable to walk for months until he started his rehabilitation, whether his time at the gym is not essential,” De Martino continued.
“Why don’t we wait for all gyms to go bust, shut their doors for good, see a rapid increase in diseases and the nation’s health go down the drain, and then maybe, just maybe, come and tell us that we deserved a little bit more importance?”
Another gym owner questioned the logic of allowing sports to go ahead when fitness venues are kept under lock.
“If you feel it’s safe for extracurricular activities, non-contact sport, contact sport and dance studios to open, all of which will result in elevated breathing, sweating and the chance of saliva being excreted, then why is it a problem for gyms?” Kyle Micallef, the owner of CrossFit356, said.
“We’re still trying to get our heads around the latest decision by the government health authorities to keep gyms closed, with no clear indication on when we can expect to reopen. Like many others in this similar situation, we are struggling,” another gym called Studio Fifteen, wrote.
“We miss all of your smiling faces and can’t wait to be given the green light to open our doors and get back to work. For now, though, we must follow the rules, keep safe and keep moving,” it continued.
One gym owner lambasted the “ridiculous ideas” to bar functional fitness when all precautions are taken.
“Sports activities promote good immunity against COVID-19. What I cannot understand is how it is ok to open churches and the ‘monti’ but the gyms are still closed. It was a proven fact, back in March by authorities, that there were not many sport-related cases, as much as there was with other activities,” The WorkShop Fitness & Training wrote.
More than a month since gyms were forced to close, a petition with over 2,000 signatures has emerged, calling for gyms to open to encourage healthy lifestyles in the pandemic.
Lovin Malta has reached out to the Health Ministry about the issue.
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