By Orville Williams
Even though its revenues are reported to be in a precarious state, the government has expressed its willingness to assist gym operators in acquiring the equipment they need to remain compliant with the newly-established Covid-19 protocols.
Ahead of receiving the green light to restart their businesses late last month, the gyms were subjected to stricter protocols, including the need for all patrons and operators to wear masks throughout the time spent in the facilities, and the frequent sanitising of machines and other surfaces touched by the customers.
They were also told that all patrons and operators should make appointments to utilise the facilities, while no patron should remain in the gyms for more than one hour.
Despite these stricter measures, however, the gym operators were no doubt elated about getting the green light to return, after suffering significant financial losses over the past months.
As part of the discussions that led to the reopening, operators also sought to get a bit of assistance from the government to be able to meet these new requirements, that would obviously come with an added financial burden.
Gary Wood, General Manager of Energie gym in English Harbour, told Observer then that while the rules were a bit stricter, he did understand that they were necessary to protect the population.
He explained that they asked the Health Ministry whether the necessary equipment could be made tax-free or whether they could get an allowance on the import costs.
There had been no further word on that particular request from either side, but on Thursday, Information Minister Melford Nicholas, told a media briefing that the government would be willing to follow through on that request. He also urged the gym operators to officially make the request, as a group, to the relevant official.
“I would say that if it does help to improve the overall health or the environment, consideration could certainly be given. I’m not aware that those concessions were requested and denied, [but] I think the appropriate channel for that would be through the minister with responsibility for sports.
“I am satisfied that if the gym owners, as a collective, would indicate that in an attempt to make them more compliant with the prescriptions of the government, having these available would keep their membership and the environment healthy … I don’t think it’s something that the government would frown upon.
“If [the requests] have been made, it would be an opportunity for them to nudge the Minister again, for the representation to be made at the appropriate level,” Nicholas said during the post-Cabinet briefing.