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Gym operators petition sports ministry for permission to reopen

Leave a comment / By: manifel / 10 October, 2020 10:20:02AM
Gym operators petition sports ministry for permission to reopen

After most sports activities were finally given permission to resume a fortnight ago, gym operators are appealing to the Ministry of Sports to also extend the greenlight to them to reopen.

The petition was raised after the Ministry of Sports’ announcement, released on September 30, instructed gyms and swimming facilities to remain shut until further notice. 

The communique surprised, and frustrated, most gym operators after a series of meetings their representatives had reportedly had with the Sports Ministry over a possibility to resume their fitness-related activities at in gymnasiums. 

According to a source who spoke to Times Sport on condition of anonymity, it is ‘very rare’ to find a gym operator in Kigali who pays less than Rwf1million to rent a gym space per month, an amount he says is a huge loss to a business that has been closed for seven months.

He revealed that a coalition of gym business operators wrote a letter to the Ministry of Sports three weeks ago requesting to give them a greenlight to resume like other sports. However, the ministry did not respond.

“We showed the ministry the preventive guidelines that we would strictly observe once we are allowed to reopen gyms, including aeration alternatives, sanitizing materials as well as social distancing measures but there was not feedback until today,” he said.

“Some [gyms] were even alerted to be inspected before they are allowed to resume but the recent announcement, which restricts us from resuming, totally ended our hopes to resume any time soon.”

Commenting on the issue, Oleg Karambizi, the Advisor to the Minister of Sports, said the ministry had a meeting with gym owners and explained that health authorities are yet to recommend the reopening of indoor fitness centers.

To date, he said, only sports which can adapt to outdoor facilities are allowed to resume and teams were given greenlight to resume under certain strict conditions.

Karambizi underscored that gym operators were advised to shift their exercises to outdoor spaces because indoor alternatives are still risky and difficult to control as far the prevention of Covid-19 spread is concerned.

“We gave all-clear to some indoor sports like basketball and volleyball to resume but on condition that they only use outdoor facilities. The same courtesy was extended to gym owners and operators and those who complied were allowed to resume activities,” said Karambizi.

As of Friday, October 9, a number of renowned gyms in Kigali – Waka Fitness, Cali Fitness, Sports View, and La Palisse – were operating from outdoor spaces.

“Hopefully, if the Covid-19 infection rate continues to considerably go down, indoor gyms will also be allowed to reopen soon.”

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