With their businesses registering a major slump due to the successive coronavirus-induced lockdowns, owners of various gyms in Delhi on Friday welcomed the government's decision to allow the reopening of their establishments and said it will help “five lakh families'' survive the pandemic.
Amid fall in daily coronavirus cases in the city, the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) on Friday decided to allow the reopening of gyms with certain restrictions.
The DDMA, however, decided that night curfew will continue in Delhi. It extended its imposition for an hour from earlier 10 pm to 11 pm.
Gym proprietors, managers and associations welcomed the city government's decision to allow the reopening of gyms as a ''big relief'' given that three successive Covid lockdowns had ''hit the fitness industry and people working in it badly''.
Delhi Gym Association, an umbrella body of a large number of gyms running in the national capital, said the decision will ''help five lakh families'' survive this pandemic, financially.
''This is now a fight for survival for the gym owners. We request that gyms should be kept out of the yellow zone (of graded response action plan), as this decision impacts over five lakh people in the national capital. We request the authorities to also waive off the fixed charges for electricity and water to help gym owners survive these tough times,'' said Chirag Sethi, vice president of Delhi Gym Association.
He also assured that all gym owners will ensure that Covid protocols are followed and everyone in the gym will be mandated to comply with safety norms.
This decision will also help Delhiites to get back on the track of fitness, he added.
Vikas Jain, Managing Director of gym chain Anytime Fitness, said, ''The first lockdown had broken our back, and then two more (lockdowns) happened. This decision is certainly a breather and we are rejoicing it.” ''To ensure safety, we have an online app where people can book their slots before coming to our centres, so that we allow only certain number of people at a time. Besides, thermal screening and oxygen level is checked for each and every person before allowing entry,'' he said.
Jain said Anytime Fitness runs 105 units across India, including through franchise partners, and 31 gyms are located across Delhi.
''This decision was much-needed, as trainers and other staff were shifting to other industries, and housekeeping employees really had a tough time too, though we had urged franchisees to help them to survive the lockdown, and many complied,'' he said.
Zuhaib Rana, proprietor of Gravitas gym in north Delhi's Ashok Vihar who had started the facility in early 2020, said, ''We faced a lockdown soon after we had started, it was really tough.” ''For trainers and other staff, we had to curtail their salaries, as there was literally no earning. But, we supported them as these people had no savings and their survival was hand-to-mouth. The impact of the pandemic and the lockdown has been really tough on us,'' he said.
Rana said one of the other big issues ''we faced was of rental and other matters”.
“Many landlords were not willing to extend contracts and the closure of gyms made matters worse for us.” Delhi on Thursday reported 2,668 fresh COVID-19 cases and 13 deaths, while the positivity rate dropped to 4.3 per cent, according to data shared by the city health department.
The number of daily cases in Delhi has been on the decline after touching the record high of 28,867 on January 13. The city had recorded a positivity rate of 30.6 per cent on January 14, the highest during the ongoing wave of the pandemic.
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