COVID19: Gyms on brink of collapse want to reopen

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Cyprus’ gym industry is on the brink of collapse as Covid-19 lockdown measures have meant they have had zero income for more than two months.

While Cyprus prepares to enter its second stage out of lockdown on Thursday, gyms have yet to get the green light to reopen, as they are included in the third stage to begin from 9 June.

Some 164 gym owners have sent a letter to President Nicos Anastasiades asking the government to consider allowing gyms to open when stage two gets off the ground.

Representing the gyms’ initiative Andreas Aristidou told daily Phileleftheros that a number of sports facilities have already closed down for good, leaving a large number of gym instructors unemployed.

He said that even larger sports facilities, including martial arts gyms, employing more than 30 people, have had to let the majority of their employees go as they find themselves unable to keep up with the bills.

“Indoor sports facilities need to get the green light so they can gradually start returning to normality. They can start with personal training sessions, gradually allowing more people in,” said Aristidou.

Arguing that the gym industry is actually worse off than the hotel industry as they have lost their income for their busiest months, March, April and May – as people want to look good on the beach.

“During this period, which is the period leading up to the summer, we earn 70% of our annual income. This is now lost. July and August are ‘dead’ months,” argued Aristidou.

He added that a plan will need to be drawn up regarding the operation of indoor exercise facilities during the coming months, but also a protocol which will allow gyms to prepare in case there is a second wave of coronavirus.

Gyms suggest that they be allowed to open, allowing just one person for every 10 square metres, with people keeping 2 metres apart.

Locker rooms will be off-limits, while handles on gym equipment should be covered with single-use plastic membranes.

Regarding group classes, Aristidou said that groups should have a maximum of 10 people, with the composition of the groups remaining the same.

“The facility should be sterilized after each session, with a 15-minute break given before the next group enters the room.”

Aristidou criticised the Cyprus Sports Organisation (KOA), saying it had not given any support when it was most needed.

“We have sent three letters to KOA, without receiving a reply, nor have they submitted any proposal to help us reopen. There is no hope.”