Delhi gyms: Select few reopen, most remain shut due to late night order
A select few gymnasiums resumed their services on Monday morning because owners either were making the necessary arrangements to ensure proper sanitisation and hygiene following the raging coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak, or were unaware of any such order being passed by the Delhi government that has also allowed yoga centres to operate.
In a late night order on Sunday, the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) allowed gymnasiums and yoga institutes to reopen with immediate effect on condition that they strictly follow all the Covid-19 safety protocols that have been put in place by the government.
On Monday morning, a few small gymnasiums in the national capital reopened, but most of them largely remained shut.
Sunil Kumar Tonk, the owner of Black’s Gym, which has 16 fitness centres across Delhi-national capital region (NCR), said he would need up to three days to reopen all his gymnasiums.
“The order came so late on Sunday night that most gymnasiums owners still do not know about it. On Monday and Tuesday, I shall hold meetings with the heads of my fitness centres to ensure that all the safety measures are in place. We will reopen the fitness centres after taking all precautions,” Tonk said.
But, Spartan’s Gyms and Aerobics centre at Vikaspuri reopened at 5am and by 8:30am at least five members had used the facility.
Lucky Wasan, the owner of the gymnasium, said he was ready with all the preparations. “We have sanitised our premises and equipment. Everyone is wearing a mask while working out. However, our changing rooms are shut for now,” Wasan said.
Aditi Rai, a member of the gymnasium who came for a workout session, said the Delhi government’s decision is a big relief for her. “Working out is like meditation for me. For all these days, I somehow adjusted with home workouts, but there’s nothing like sweating it out in the gymnasium with your peers and trainers to pump you up. However, a drawback is that high intensity workout gets difficult while wearing masks. The breathing pattern is somewhat compromised,” she said.
There are over 6,000 gyms and fitness centres across the national capital that employ more than 100,000 people.
Sunday’s order stated that gymnasiums and yoga centres would be allowed to operate with immediate effect only if they strictly follow the standard operating procedures (SOP) laid down by the Union ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoH&FW).
“In case of any violation, owner and manager of the premises shall be liable for persecution under the Disaster Management Act, 2005, besides sealing of such premises forthwith,” the order, seen by HT, stated.
It also directed all district disaster management authorities to ensure that gymnasiums and yoga centres comply strictly with the SOPs in a bid to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
The SOPs for gyms issued by the Centre on August 3 had restricted yoga and workout sessions to only such activities that do not require trainers to touch members and not more than 10 people per 1,000 square (sq) feet (ft) of space.
Facilities such as sauna, shower, body massage and spas were also not be available until further orders. All other social distancing and preventive measures such as hand hygiene and thermal screening at the entrance were to be strictly followed by members and gymnasium and yoga organisers.
Face masks will be mandatory at all times within gymnasium and yoga centre premises.
Gymnasiums and yoga institutes must ensure a minimum distance of six feet between individuals. They should try and utilise outdoor space by relocating or offering online training classes wherever possible. Specific entry and exit pathways to be created by floor and wall markings and precautionary instructions on posters to be placed within closed spaces are some of the rules issued by the Centre as part of the SOPs.
The Central government under its unlock 3:0 guidelines issued on July 29 had allowed gymnasiums and yoga centres to reopen across the country from August 5. But the DDMA, headed by Lieutenant- Governor (L-G) Anil Baijal, did not allow the resumption of these services owing to a spike Covid-19 cases in the national capital.
On August 6, the Delhi government had sent a file to the L-G’s office to reopen hotels, weekly markets, gymnasiums and yoga centres in the national capital.
The DDMA on August 19 had allowed the reopening of hotels and weekly markets, but gymnasiums and yoga centres were prohibited until Sunday’s order overturned it.