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Fitness boss says gyms should not be called coronavirus hotspots

A fitness boss has slammed calling gyms coronavirus ‘hotspots’ after research found NSW facilities had zero cases of community transmission in more than two months. 

Fitness Australia gathered data from a random sample of NSW operators to prove gyms are safely operating during the COVID-19 pandemic, when compared to restaurants and bars.

CEO Barrie Elvish said there had been more than 6.26million check-ins across 423 gyms since they reopened in NSW on 13 June.

‘During that same period there have been zero cases of reported community transmission in a gym,’ he said.  

‘The same cannot be said for restaurants or bars in NSW where cluster cases have started and spread.   

‘However, gyms are still being categorised with these and other entertainment venues and cast in a negative light.’ 

NSW recorded 12 new COVID-19 cases in the 24 hours to 8pm on Wednesday, with four linked to known clusters, three with no known source and five from returned travellers in hotel quarantine.

As new COVID-19 infections spread across Sydney, some gyms were forced to shut their doors for deep cleaning because infected members walked through the doors.

A handful of infected people visited Planet Fitness at Casula, in Sydney’s south-west, following an outbreak at Crossroads Hotel, in the same suburb.  

Positive cases also visited Fitness First in Kings Cross and St Leonards but there was no further transmission in the facilities. 

Mr Elvish said: ‘While we acknowledge there have been 13 reported cases where a member has visited the gym while infected, health authorities have not specifically identified any cases of transmission in a gym.’

The CEO said the industry was working hard to go above and beyond safety requirements to ensure gyms could remain open.   

‘Our industry knows how important it is to keep members and staff safe while using the gym, which is why owners and operators all over the state are going above what is required by law and putting additional health and safety practices in place,’ he said.

‘However, gyms are still unfairly being categorised as ‘hotspots’ for the spread of COVID-19. It’s inaccurate and is hurting the industry.’ 

Mr Elvish said Fitness Australia remains focused on promoting individual’s health and well-being.

‘We are not part of the problem; we are actually part of the solution to getting more Australians more active more often and help prevent long-term lifestyle-related disease,’ he said.

‘Rather than referencing sources who incorrectly label gyms a ‘hotspot’, we are urging the government to work with Fitness Australia, and the industry, to ensure the health and safety of the community, surely an essential outcome, remains a priority – now and in the future.’

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