Gyms pose a higher risk and will need to be reopened cautiously, one of our top doctors has said.
Gyms pose a higher risk and will need to be reopened cautiously, one of our top doctors has said.

The place that will be last to reopen

Gyms pose a "higher risk of transmission" compared to cafes and restaurants, one of Australia's top doctors has said.

It comes amid predictions that gyms will be among the last businesses to reopen and could be closed until at least September.

With Australia's coronavirus curve flattening both state and federal governments are in the process of deciding how they will wind back current restrictions.

Discussing the gradual easing of the lockdown on Today Extra this morning, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Nick Coatsworth said there would need to be a "very staggered' lifting of restrictions.

Fitness Instagram star Sophie Guidolin.
Fitness Instagram star Sophie Guidolin.


"Cafes and restaurants have been discussed publicly by state premiers in the past 24 hours. It's all a matter of timing though," he said.

"They won't all open at once and some of them present more risk than others."

Among the most risky places to reopen were gyms, Dr Coatsworth said.

"Certainly gymnasiums do present a higher risk of transmission because of their nature and the number of people that use them," he said.

"So anything we do, it's got to be done in a very staggered way because you lift one set of restrictions, you've got several weeks before you can see the effect on what's going on with COVID-19."

Dr Coatsworth said that easing lockdown will require the government to "jump on any clusters that have occurred and then place Australia in the position for the lifting of the next round of restrictions".

"We may see small clusters," he said.

Gym junkies will need to continue to get their fix online from people like Insta fitness star Tammy Hembrow.
Gym junkies will need to continue to get their fix online from people like Insta fitness star Tammy Hembrow.


"We are seeing small clusters and the example set by the Victorian Health Department of how to manage that. Down in the meatworks is an excellent example of how we're going to have to move forward."

'GYMS WILL NOT BE THE SAME POST-COVID'

It's predicted that gyms will see a staged roll out of services, such as spaced out equipment and smaller classes, until they return to normal.

Gyms and indoor sporting venues were shuttered by the Government on March 24, followed by outdoor boot camps and outdoor gym equipment.

Current restrictions mean you can only work out in groups of two while maintaining a distance of 1.5m.

Many Australians are now opting to exercise from home, with closed gyms offering livestreamed classes and workout programs.

Keep It Cleaner co-founder Steph Claire Smith.
Keep It Cleaner co-founder Steph Claire Smith.

 

The Fitness Playground's Justin Ashley.
The Fitness Playground's Justin Ashley.

The Fitness Playground and The Virtual Playground CEO Justin Ashley said that "gyms will not be the same post-COVID" and to expect some changes, such as time limits and increased cleaning.

"To ensure that gyms do not breach usage protocols, bookings may be used for all gym access," he said.

"The advantage of this is members will have visibility over when the gym is busy and can select times when the gym is less busy, according to their unique wants and needs."

Mr Ashley also said there will also likely be less gyms as not all will survive the financial downturn but there will be an upswing in outdoor exercise.

"Outdoor fitness will be used to offset the limits placed on indoor training," he said.

"This is exciting for us, and many of our members. It brings us back to our roots, is a safe alternative to the gym and outdoor training has really surged since COVID-19, which is great to see.

"We're lucky enough to live in a country where outdoor training is accessible most of the year, and I for one can't wait to take advantage of that more."


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