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Low-intensity physical activities allowed to continue at indoor gyms, fitness studios amid tightened COVID-19 guidelines

Low-intensity physical activities allowed to continue at indoor gyms, fitness studios amid tightened COVID-19 guidelines

(Photo: Pexels/Burst)

SINGAPORE: Low-intensity physical activities will be allowed to continue at indoor gyms and fitness studios amid tightened COVID-19 guidelines, said Sport Singapore (SportSG) in an updated advisory on Friday (May 7).

Earlier this week, the authorities announced that such indoor premises would have to close from Saturday to May 30 to curb further COVID-19 transmissions, as they had been identified as higher-risk settings.  

The list included indoor facilities such as gyms and fitness studios, including yoga and pilates studios, according to guidelines by SportSG on Thursday.

In updated guidelines on Friday, SportSG said high-risk physical activities, sport and exercise environments that are indoors will now be allowed to remain open only if they offer "low-intensity physical activities, sport and exercises where all participants and instructors are wearing masks at all times".

The premises listed in the updated guidelines on Friday included indoor gyms, as well as fitness, dance, barre and spin studios.

READ: COVID-19: Some indoor sports facilities to close temporarily, outdoor exercise classes to continue with reduced capacity

READ: Gym and fitness studio owners disappointed at mandated closures as they find ways to adapt

"Such indoor premises (and including any other type of indoor premises such as hotel, club or condominium function rooms) must not be allowed to be used, or hired out to others for use for any high intensity sport and physical activities where participants are in close contact, exerting and not wearing masks during the stipulated period," said SportSG.

The facilities will also not be allowed to offer weight, strength or resistance training of any form, or provide equipment for such training, as these are associated with strenuous activities.

In response to queries from CNA, SportSG said that low-intensity activities are those that can be done with masks on at all time and gave examples such as as yoga, pilates, stretching exercises and tai chi. 

Additionally, high intensity classes such as martial arts and combat sports may also carry on as usual.

Explaining the rationale, SportSG said: "These classes are commonly held based on cohorting -same class time, same participants, same venue etc - and this generally limits the risk exposure to the same cohort."

However, the agency added that providers of such classes will need to modify the activities according to the enhanced safe management measures.

These include being masked at all times, minimising contact "as much as possible" and not providing the use of common equipment such as punching pads and boxing rings.

Government agencies will be conducting inspections, said SportSG. It added that enforcement actions will be taken against businesses or individuals who fail to comply with safe management measures.

READ: Cap of 5 people for social gatherings, household visits to return as Singapore tightens COVID-19 measures

READ: Singapore returns to tighter COVID-19 measures: What's allowed under the new rules?

Culture, Community and Youth Minister Edwin Tong said in a Facebook post on Friday that the measures were updated after discussions with business owners and professionals in the sport and fitness industry over the past few days.

"Following these discussions, we will allow some low-risk activities to continue under strict safe management measures through this heightened alert period," he said.

"This will ease the pressure for some; but I should emphasise that strict safe management measures will have to be adhered to, at all times," he added.

Mr Tong also said that the Government is working on financial support measures to help those who will have to remain closed, and will make an announcement shortly.

For a list of affected Sport Singapore’s indoor facilities and programmes during this period, visit https://www.myactivesg.com/Facilities/Sport-Centres/Facilities-Closure

Refunds for affected bookings that fall under these dates will be processed within the next seven working days, said SportSG.

ENHANCED SAFE MANAGEMENT MEASURES

Participants, instructors and staff have to adhere to a more stringent set of safe management measures.

Those performing permitted low intensity sport and physical activity in a high-risk environment are required to wear a mask at all times.

If any participant removes his or her mask, the activity has to cease immediately.

Participants should not share sport and exercise equipment, such as exercise machines, bars, free weights, stationary bikes, treadmills or exercise mats where transmission risk is high. 

Premises that remain open must not provide such equipment for use.

Owners or operators of facilities are responsible for ensuring safe management measures are implemented, and that their patrons or users comply, said SportSG.

On Saturday, SportSG also said that freelance instructors are "strongly discouraged" from holding classes for up to five person at home, SportSG said.

Given the intent of reducing the risk of further community spread in this period of heightened alert, "we strongly discourage sports providers from hosting physical fitness classes for up to five persons in residential premises due to the high intensity and close contact nature of the activity", it said.

"We seek the cooperation of all sports providers to remain unified and disciplined in our fight against COVID-19, and to keep our loved ones and community safe."

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