Advance booking, 4-meter distancing: What return to gyms in NCR could look like

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 01 2021 03:24 PM

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Government is further loosening coronavirus restrictions in Metro Manila, allowing fitness studios and gyms to reopen partially following a decline in daily COVID-19 cases.

But what safeguards are being considered?

Fitness studios and gyms can only operate at 20-percent capacity and accept fully vaccinated clients. Workers must also complete their immunization, Malacañang said on Thursday.

"Kahit gaano kaliit ‘yan porsyento [ng reopening], tatanggapin namin," Gold's Gym Philippines CEO Mylene Mendoza-Dayrit said on Friday. 

(No matter how small the percentage of reopening is, we will accept that.)

The fitness industry, she said, was still waiting for additional guidelines from the trade department. 

But, she said, an alliance of the largest fitness clubs in the Philippines, to which Gold's Gym belongs, had suggested a 4-meter physical distancing rule and requiring patrons to keep their anti-virus masks on at all times. 

"Ang aming kasunduan is booking po tayo, advance booking… Kung talagang advance ‘yong booking nila, then puwede na rin naming imbestigahan kung fully vaccinated sila," she added in a televised public briefing. 

(Our agreement is we will have a booking, advance booking. If there is advance booking, we can investigate if they are indeed fully vaccinated.) 

A fitness coach may not be able to serve more than one client at a time as this would be considered group training, Mendoza-Dayrit added. 

About 95 percent of gym personnel from the Philippine Fitness Alliance are already fully vaccinated, while the rest are waiting for their second jabs, she said. 

The group represents brands such as Anytime Fitness, Celebrity Fitness, Fitness First, Gold's Gym, Slimmers World, and UFC Gym.

"Tanggap po namin na sa fitness industry, na since inaalagaan namin ang kalusugan ng bansa, kailangan kami is a good example at kami ‘yong dapat vaccinated din," said Mendoza-Dayrit. 

(We in the fitness industry accept that since we are taking care of the country's health, we should set a good example and get vaccinated, too.) 

Home to 13 million people, Metro Manila is the country's coronavirus epicenter accounting for a third of confirmed infections and 1 in every 4 deaths. 

Nearly 80 percent of the area's population have already been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, government data showed.

An alert level system and small-scale lockdown system first imposed in the capital region on Sept. 16 to allow for greater mobility and more businesses to reopen will remain in place up to Oct. 15.

Government permitted restaurants and personal care services to double their allowable operating capacity to 20 percent. 

"This is one step towards the recovery of the economy. People are enthusiastic about opening up," Benjamin Abalos, chairperson of the capital's council of mayors, told Reuters. 

The capital region is under a moderate risk case classification but intensive care utilization is still under a high-risk level, the health department said.

New COVID-19 infections in the Philippines have shown signs of easing, with confirmed cases averaging 1,700 daily in the past week from nearly 4,300 in the previous week.

The Philippines, which has some 2.5 million COVID-19 cases and 38,294 deaths, has the second-highest infections and casualties in Southeast Asia, next to Indonesia.

— With a report from Reuters