Delhi: Gyms permitted to re-open but most remain shut
Paying heed to the request of fitness studio owners, the Delhi government on Sunday allowed gyms and yoga centers in the national capital to resume operations from Monday while following coronavirus-induced precautions. However, despite the order most of the gym owners kept the facilities shut, citing lack of preparations. The order, evidently, came at a time when Delhi's COVID-19 tally is surging again.
With the order, over 5,000 gyms, that employ nearly 100,000 people, in Delhi can open while adhering to Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). The order underlines that there should be a gap of 15-30 minutes between batches to allow gym/yoga center caretakers to thoroughly sanitize the premises. No such facilities in 1,488 containment zones of Delhi will re-open, underscored the order.
The SOPs, released by the Centre last month, made covering faces mandatory inside gyms and yoga centers. Only workout activities that don't need a trainer to touch visitors were permitted. Other than ensuring a minimum of six feet distance between people, gym owners were also asked to allow only ten people per 1,000 sq. ft. of space. All visitors will be thermally-screened at the entrance.
Warning gym owners against laxity, the order stated, "In case of any violation, the owner and manager of the premises will be liable for prosecution under Delhi Disaster Management Act, 2005 besides sealing of such premises."
Unsurprisingly, the order came as a relief to thousands of gyms, facing financial woes since the nationwide lockdown started in March. However, despite the order, some owners took a conscious decision to keep gyms closed, citing a lack of preparations. Sunil Kumar Tonk, who owns the Black's Gym, said he would need at least three days to open all the 16 centers in Delhi/NCR.
"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 centers to ensure that all the safety measures are in place," Tonk told HT.
In sharp contrast, Spartan's Gyms and Aerobics center at Vikaspuri reopened at 5 am today. At least, five people worked out at the facility. Flaunting that he had all precautions in place, owner Lucky Wasan added, "Everyone is wearing a mask while working out. However, our changing rooms are shut for now." Meanwhile, a local said exercising while wearing a mask was demanding.
Notably, the continued restrictions on gyms had sparked protests against the state government and L-G Anil Baijal, in different pockets of Delhi. One such protest happened outside Baijal's residence, wherein stakeholders reminded that fitness centers were allowed to function in neighboring states. While the AAP government was keen on allowing gyms/yoga centers to open, the DDMA, headed by Baijal, showed reluctance.