Prime Minister Scott Morrison is tipped to announce the lifting of some lockdown rules tomorrow – but there’s one restriction we’ve been told not to expect to change anytime soon.
Health experts had previously predicted gyms wouldn’t be able to reopen until September after winter because of the threat coronavirus poses in the sweaty, closed-in environment.
However some gyms are optimistic that restrictions may be lifted soon, with one Sydney gym even declaring they are “set to reopen” in a membership special.
The Northern Territory government’s move to reopen gyms next week has been taken as a sign of confidence from those in the industry – however, it likely won’t be happening in other states anytime soon.
“It’s really positive actually. We own a gym in the Northern Territory and they reopen on the 15th of May,” The Fitness Playground chief executive Justin Ashley told news.com.au.
“So we’re really hopeful that NSW isn’t too far behind.”
But, gym junkies shouldn’t get their hopes up yet, with NSW and other populous states such as Victoria warned they still have far to go when it comes to easing coronavirus restrictions.
The NT has all but eradicated new coronavirus cases and is the only state or territory to record no deaths from the disease.
Meanwhile there are still new infections occurring in other states, with outbreak clusters at Newmarch nursing home in Sydney’s west and Melbourne’s Cedar Meats facility causing concern among health officials.
Despite The Fitness Playground making the move to online classes and programs when their doors were shut by the government in March, the gym chain has still lost about 85 per cent its revenue.
Mr Ashley said the gym was already making plans to reopen doors in a post-coronavirus world, with sanitisation stations now installed and plans to add air purifying machines.
“We’ve already moved our equipment to 1.5-metre spacing,” he said. “So we’re getting ready now to make sure we’re compliant with the regulations as they get released.”
Some gyms have gone even further to prepare for reopening, with F45 advertising a re-open membership sale.
In a post shared on F45’s Bondi Junction Instagram page the gym announced it was “set to reopen” and had people “covered to hit the gym REALLY soon”.
RELATED: Gyms could be last to reopen
News.com.au has contacted F45 Bondi Junction for further comment.
Mr Ashley said he was keen for the government to introduce framework on how members and staff could be kept safe from coronavirus, enabling gyms to reopen.
“I’m not a health expert or a doctor who can define what should happen with the disease itself. What I can say though is the NRL has put together a really detailed framework about how to keep their players safe and I know Fitness Australia is doing the same,” he said.
“I think that Fitness Australia should be able to work with the government, with the health professionals, but also with the gym owners to make sure that we set up a safe environment for staff and members.
“That’s what I believe. I don’t know when we should be opening – all I know is that there will be people out there who have got great frameworks in place like the NRL has, and we should be trying to do the same.”
While agreeing with the government’s lockdown measures Mr Ashley said gyms were “uniquely positioned” to ensure a safe environment when reopened.
“We have CCTV, we have booking systems, we have access control and not a lot of other businesses have that,” he said.
“I understand the measures and why they were taken, but I also think we’re in a unique position to be able to reopen and reopen safely.”
TOO EARLY TO SAY WHEN GYMS WILL REOPEN
But Australasian College for Infection Prevention and Control president and Monash University School of Nursing and Midwifery associate professor Philip Russo told news.com.au it was still hard to predict when gyms would reopen.
“I really can’t say what the time frame will be,” he said.
“Even though we have done well in Australia in flattening the curve, we are only one or two clusters away from changing the shape of that curve.
“It still remains very much a day by day, week by week, review of the data.”
RELATED: When will gyms and pubs reopen?
Assoc Prof Russo said gyms could only safely reopen when Australia was”consistently maintaining the long term reduction in cases”, as opposed to when a certain threshold in the number of cases is reached.
When gyms reopen it won’t be business as usual either – expert a staggered return to full classes and stringent hygiene practices.
“I suggest it would need to be a gradual process,” Assoc Prof Russo said.
“For example, maybe start with classes of 10 people to ensure adequate distancing can be maintained. The four square metre rule would apply.
“An abundance of alcohol hand sanitiser be placed throughout, all patrons and staff would need to be educated on distancing and hand hygiene, and these would have to be policed to ensure they are being followed, and ensure patrons and staff do not attend if they are feeling unwell or have any flu-like symptoms.”