One of the most asinine lockdown restrictions implemented by the Andrews Victorian Government is the banning of gyms in regional Victoria.
There are only a handful of active COVID-19 infections across regional Victoria:
And the 14-day average rate of infection has fallen to just 0.4:
So for all intents and purposes, COVID-19 has been eliminated across regional Victoria. Yet Premier Daniel Andrews announced on Sunday that gyms must remain closed because they are “high-risk”:
Gyms in Victoria have not been given a lifeline update on when they can reopen, despite a raft of changes to restrictions being announced for Melbourne and regional areas by Premier Dan Andrews.
He said gyms are a “high-risk environment,” and won’t even reopen in regional Victoria…
“When something by its very nature – no disrespect or any reflection on the owner or the person who operates it – but when something is by its very nature is unsafe, like in the context of this virus, it is hard to make it safe and you cannot,” he said.
“There will be a time when they can and we’re looking at it closely.
“But I cannot give them the news they want now because it would not be safe to do that.”
Fitness Australia is rightfully fuming, with CEO Barrie Elvish penning an open letter to Daniel Andrews calling out his draconian and unfair treatment of the fitness industry:
As the Premier and leader of the state, Victorians trust you will provide information and make decisions based on fact not propaganda.
This consistent “anti-gym” messaging leads me to conclude it can only be based on ignorance or a deliberate strategy to use the sector as some form of litmus test for “proving” an ongoing extension of draconian lockdown restrictions are justified.
You have once again persisted in maintaining gyms are unsafe and cannot be made safe. This is despite evidence to the contrary in every other Australian state where the sector is safely operating with a range of COVID-Safe protocols.
But Premier, how would you, or your department, know? To date the Victorian Government’s engagement with the fitness sector has been the worst in Australia.
Your recent comments also ignore the most recent data that indicates the hospitality sector has more than five times the number of transmissions as the fitness sector.
In the UK gyms don’t even rate in the top four most affected sectors, which are care homes, workplaces, hospitality and schools.
Are you serious when you claim that because restaurants are commercial enterprises with COVID-Safe plans, cleanliness standards and staff ensuring social distancing they are safer than gyms, personal training or fitness studios?
Let me state the facts, Mr. Premier:
- With 1,500 facilities employing 40,000 Victorians and supporting 900,000 members it is safe to say gyms are commercial enterprises
- All gyms interstate are operating safely and effectively with COVID-Safe protocols in place
- Unlike the hospitality sector, gyms have had hygiene protocols in place for 10 years; not months
- In some states COVID-Safe protocols include a dedicated staff member not just ensuring social distancing but also cleaning
- Our specific proposals for Victoria made allowance for the provision of temperature checks on entry, masks and gloves for members.
Mr. Premier, why won’t you instruct your officials to review the specific COVID-Safe Plan we submitted to the Deputy CHO on 25 September 2020, at his request?
Mr. Premier, why won’t you instruct your officials to review the proven interstate data that demonstrates the fitness sector can operate in a COVID-Safe manner with an open mind?
Mr. Premier, are you seriously suggesting a café is safer than a supervised yoga studio?
Mr. Premier why won’t you share with the sector, the “evidence” you use to justify your ongoing position?
Mr. Premier, given the lack of transmission in most of regional Victoria, why can’t gyms open now. Let alone when cafes and restaurants can have 40 people inside?
Mr. Premier, when can gyms expect to open in Victoria?
Mr. Premier, when was the last time you visited a gym?
With proper protocols and COVID-safe plans, there is no reason why gyms in regional Victoria should not already be open.
Unlike cafes, restaurants and pubs – which are permitted to seat up to 40 customers indoors – almost all gyms use electronic check-in. This makes contact tracing easy if an outbreak were to occur.
Finally, contrast the Victorian Government’s draconian approach to NSW, where the government has further relaxed restrictions on gyms, even in Sydney:
Daniel Andrews seems intent to drive the fitness industry into bankruptcy. He’d prefer Victorians get fat eating donuts at home instead of doing physical activity.