Why are gyms not allowed to open in regional Victoria?

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:

  1. With 1,500 facilities employing 40,000 Victorians and supporting 900,000 members it is safe to say gyms are commercial enterprises
  2. All gyms interstate are operating safely and effectively with COVID-Safe protocols in place
  3. Unlike the hospitality sector, gyms have had hygiene protocols in place for 10 years; not months
  4. In some states COVID-Safe protocols include a dedicated staff member not just ensuring social distancing but also cleaning
  5. 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.

Unconventional Economist
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Comments

  1. Having been a long time member of a major fitness chain, i stopped going, because in no way are they safe without masks.
    Safer while statewide infections are low, but definitely a hub for transmission.

    That rules out aerobics like running, especially with aircon blowing across the room and sweat on equipment.
    Aerobic stuff should be done in the car park.

    Got decent triceps just from doing 40 pushups with a cheap chin up bar on the floor, getting aerobic running home from work. Masks are exempted for running.

        • So it’s no longer shared equipment covered in stale second hand sweat , self impressed poseurs and humans as rodents running on their treadmills under oh-so-natural fluorescent lighting ?

          My apologies then.

          If you’ve got no other option for exercise then of course you’ll go to a gym but It’ll take some convincing to have me believe they’ve evolved beyond the overpriced dens of farts , grunts and despairing whimpers they were when I set foot in one for the first and last time many years ago.

          I’d rather do push-ups in the park ,even if it meant being face down in dogsh1t , than get vibed by a swarthy roid pig cause I’m taking too long on some piece of gym equipment.

          • Charles MartinMEMBER

            Not at 4am. My gym is clean, empty and roid pig free. The only trace of roid pig is the mess that the weight racks are left in because it’s soo hard to put things back on the rack after you’ve grunted and posed your arse off.

          • Gyms have successfully opened across Australia (ex Victoria) and Asia without issue.

            Provided proper protocols are in place (e.g. temperature checks on entry, cleaning equipment, etc) it can be managed safely. Remember, entry details are electronically collected, which makes contact tracing very easy. Unlike 40 people going to a pub.

            Come back when you actually have an argument.

          • Less Woke More BlokeMEMBER

            Of course it’s shared equipment, that’s just being silly.

            Staff are wiping stuff down constantly and I wipe all stuff down before touching it – barbells etc.

            Can you catch CV from sweat?[citation required]

            I’d be more worried about treadmill areas and circulation.

          • Exactly as less woke more bloke says. And we were wearing masks. Equipment wipe down with disinfectant before and after use. Relatively safe.
            Open them.

      • I would like to say I stopped going because seeing all these gym junkies grunting and doing bicep curls in front of the mirror was making me physically ill, but actually it was the boredom that got to me first.

      • If you don’t know much about gyms, then don’t comment.
        I’ve been a gym member for 20 years and the “gym” that you imply are rare these days. Just like most places where people go to, gyms can be dirty but the regular patrons who see each other every day and respect the equipment and others clean up after themselves. I’ll be lying if I say everyone does it, no, of course not, but plenty of people are nice enough to clean up for them anyway including the gym attendants.

        Gyms are one place where healthy eating, living and culture is promoted, and yes there are drug users, of course, but even then most of them respect the gym because its like a second home, sounds exaggerated but ask around and many will tell you that gym has become their social hubs and home away from home, its a nice culture and a positive one.

    • Your fear and belief in the necessity of masks suggests you have one bicep definitely bigger than the other.

  2. There’s a definite oversupply in the fitness industry and I’m sure quite a few would have gone under sans Covid. Insane how many gyms there were in Melbourne.

    That being said, fitness and martial arts industry pretty much destroyed in Victoria and the ban is silly IMO. Some people prefer group classes and not running/monotonous workouts and don’t have the ability for a home gym setup.

    • The Traveling Wilbur

      When I was a lad, to exercise we had some rocks, leftover vests and a stick. And we had to find our own rocks – 3 miles past mill they were. And stick.

      And we were grateful for it.

        • A quarry, you were blessed!
          We had to walk 100miles through the desert in the middle of summer just to get to the nearest road, and then we had to chew the rock out of the asphalt with our bare teeth!

          • All of you above spoilt brats, we had to trek for 2 weeks through snow and rain, then 2 weeks in heat and burning desert. Then work as slaves for 2 weeks in a farm picking fruits to get a stone in a fruit

          • You call that torture. We had it worse than that! We lived on top of a volcano surrounded by rocks but they were not good enough for Ol Da! No he made us get up at the crack of yesterday’s dawn to climb down a sheer 1000 foot crater wall without a rope so that we could collect larva from the lake with our bare hands. Then we had to put those glowing rocks down the front of our shorts in order to climb up again!

          • I don’t think you replied regarding your claim that the Covid positive cleaner from Frankston was working cash in hand. Do you have supporting evidence?

  3. thefatgeneralMEMBER

    I’m not in Vic so not directly affected. But can definitely state that I much prefer gym to any other form of exercise-once in a class I’m motivated and go until the end-self workouts just don’t have the same motivation. I’m sure there are people like me in Vic. Open the gyms-as Taiwan has shown, it’s all in the contract tracing-get that right and everything can open/isolating out the virus until it disappears.

  4. happy valleyMEMBER

    And what is LvO’s view on Ireland having effectively adopted, and a number of other EU countries – now into their second and worse virus wave – seriously looking at adopting, Manchurian Dan’s Victorian lockdown protocol?

    • I supported Victoria’s lockdown until the end of last month. It was necessary then to prevent virus escalation. I also penned a detailed article in August on why stage 4 restrictions should be extended by two weeks to 27 September.
      So your comment doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
      The fact of the matter is that Victoria’s case numbers cratered to manageable levels weeks ago – far lower than NSW’s in August- so we should have opened. The lockdowns have gone too far and don’t balance benefits with costs.
      Tell me why I am wrong?

      • happy valleyMEMBER

        Whether you are or wrong about the extension, you have become manic on this matter and following the lead of the totally biased Credlin – if I ever hear her meaningfully criticising an LNP gubmint, I think I will fall off my perch. If Dan has to go so be it, but you tell me whether Michael O’Brien is the solution. I hear that it has been reported this morning that there are fresh cases in Victoria in an islamic school and in social housing, so you may as well let it rip and be happy and content. Also, I hear the big hitter CEOs have been wheeled out this morning to plead for the international borders and I suspect they will get that wish fulfilled by Christmas by the Scotty The Impaler, so again let it rip and welcome everybody from wherever they come – Europe, the sub-continent etc. I doubt Border Force will be able to cope but what the heck.
        .
        Also, do you dispense any blame for the Victorian outbreak to the federal gubmint and and their aged care arrangements supervised by that lightweight Colbeck and overseen by Scotty The Impaler?

        Also, NSW had the Ruby Princess debacle with 3,000 passengers let loose to roam here, there and everywhere and 20+ deaths (which is not to be sneezed at) and a very high level and scathing inquiry, but has anyone got the bullet or fallen on their sword in NSW Health or among the responsible ministers (Health Minister and now slightly tainted Saint Gladys) following that inquiry – nah. At least, a few have fallen on their sword (one way or another) in Victoria and there will likely be more. As for NSW, it’s pure luck that it has not taken off here and I suspect it is probably more rampant than we are aware of and the gubmint is not particularly forthcoming with info.

        • “you have become manic on this matter and following the lead of the totally biased Credlin”.

          No, I’m a Melburnian that is following the data and sick and tired of lockdown. The fact that Peta Credlin shares my view – and has done a great job exposing the lies – is a side issue. I wish the fake left media would do the same.

          “If Dan has to go so be it, but you tell me whether Michael O’Brien is the solution”.

          Politicians are like renewable resources. Change them often. O’Brien couldn’t do a worse job.

          “I hear that it has been reported this morning that there are fresh cases in Victoria in an islamic school and in social housing, so you may as well let it rip and be happy and content”.

          So, keep us locked down then for another month? Or trust our contract tracing system, as NSW has done?

          “Also, I hear the big hitter CEOs have been wheeled out this morning to plead for the international borders and I suspect they will get that wish fulfilled by Christmas by the Scotty The Impaler, so again let it rip and welcome everybody from wherever they come – Europe, the sub-continent etc. I doubt Border Force will be able to cope but what the heck”.

          What’s this got to do with Melbourne’s draconian lockdown and the Victorian Government’s failures? You know I don’t support opening the international border. So why try and make out like I do?

          “Also, do you dispense any blame for the Victorian outbreak to the federal gubmint and and their aged care arrangements supervised by that lightweight Colbeck and overseen by Scotty The Impaler?”

          Nope. The outbreak was caused 100% by failed hotel quarantine, supplemented by poor contact tracing. This has been proven by genomic sequencing.

          Why didn’t aged care providers in other states suffer the same fate? Answer: they didn’t import the virus.

          “Also, NSW had the Ruby Princess debacle with 3,000 passengers let loose to roam here, there and everywhere and 20+ deaths (which is not to be sneezed at) and a very high level and scathing inquiry, but has anyone got the bullet or fallen on their sword in NSW Health or among the responsible ministers (Health Minister and now slightly tainted Saint Gladys) following that inquiry – nah. At least, a few have fallen on their sword (one way or another) in Victoria and there will likely be more”.

          Ruby Princess was a drop in the bucket compared to Victoria’s debacle. It also occurred very early on when the pandemic was new and nobody knew what was going on. The same excuse cannot be said for hotel quarantine. Unlike Victoria, the NSW Government also did not try and “cover up” by lying to the inquiry and suppressing information.

          “As for NSW, it’s pure luck that it has not taken off here and I suspect it is probably more rampant than we are aware of and the gubmint is not particularly forthcoming with info.”

          NSW has taken in over 60,000 international arrivals without a major outbreak. They’ve remained open throughout the second wave with case numbers far higher than Victoria’s currently and kept the virus suppressed. Good luck or management?

          Whataboutism runs strong in your veins.

          • happy valleyMEMBER

            If you want to call it whataboutism, then so be it. Unfortunately, there is so much incompetence, waste and corruption at all levels of gubmint in this country that we are screwed. I hope that you get the justice you want for Victoria and look forward to you taking on your next challenge. Meanwhile, I’ll also await Credlin’s next effort.

          • happy valleyMEMBER

            @LvO – I have seen DL-S’s and your efforts in calling out tainted Saint Gladys and Scotty The Impaler and applaud them, but you two are dealing with two of the greatest Teflon characters in Straya where the MSM are totally captive to the LNP. So, you two, Michael West, Pascometer and all the other uncompromised journos/bloggers are pushing the proverbial up hill.

  5. Home gym setup FTW! No dumbarses curling in the squat rack, and only one dirty prick sweating all over equipment. 😀

  6. Mr SquiggleMEMBER

    I can’t understand why gyms are still closed. When mine was open in between lockdowns it had a booking system that limited numbers. You had an hour to get your session done and there was a wipe down inbetween sessions. I’d feel safer in a gym than in a classroom at school or on public transport

  7. One of the great stupidity’s of this lockdown is the ability to gather with hundreds of others in an unhygienic grocery store of your choosing, buy low quality junk food, alcohol and a manner of other ills yet going to a gym for exercise, which is a proven defense against getting sick is not allowed.

    I supported lockdowns originally but quickly my support waned once all these exemptions were carved out. Grocery shopping, hardware stores, alcohol, takeaway, high rise construction and schools. We either needed to go “all in” and really shut the place down to resolve it quickly or open everything up with risk mitigation strategies depending on context.

  8. call me ArtieMEMBER

    Premier Andrews has more than once expressed frustration that theory is one thing but we are dealing with mis-behaving people

    I raise that point because I think, if you look with eyes open, that many of the restrictions still in place make more sense if viewed through the lense of trying to deal with identifiable cohorts of non-co-operative problem citizens. The racialist thing that dares not speak it’s name (certainly Dan dares not)

    If you can identify a hotbed of activity within the unspoken problem racialist cohort community, then there may be benefits of keeping it closed which exceed the superficial examination of nationwide stats.

    EDIT: apologies to Skippy…I stole your style