By Elesha George
Gym owners are disappointed at the government’s decision to close down their establishment until February 25th.
According to amended Covid regulations, no gym is permitted to operate or offer any services during that time.
Cabinet spokesman, Melford Nicholas, said that it was a precautionary measure which the government believes will slow down the spread of the virus, after cases began to rapidly increase this week.
“We are mindful that most gym owners have actually increased the level of sanitation, but again, this is out of an abundance of caution. We recognise that there is a lot of body fluids and sweating taking place in the gym, and a lot of nasal exertion, so this is just an additional precautionary measure,” he said.
However, Donny Roseau, the owner of Jolly Harbour Gym, said that while he understands the urgent steps that are being taken to reduce the spread of the virus, completely shutting down gyms without any room for operating is “unfortunate.”
“I think the authorities should allow gym operators to submit plans to operate with little to no risk for their members, subject to their inspection and their approval, and have livelihoods continue. I think that’s necessary,” he said, adding “I haven’t heard reports that gyms have become hot spots. Most other types of businesses, even the ones I’ve heard where they had positive cases, these businesses were given room to operate.”
Roseau said his operation at Jolly Harbour is indoors with a large outdoor deck which means he can adjust the operation to where they’ll be little to no risk to his members.
During the initial lockdown, Roseau said the gym was allowing a couple or an individual to use the gym for 50 minutes at a time throughout the day and cleaned it between sessions, while small classes were held on the deck with six persons or less.
Owner of Torturer Gym, Joseph “Merrick” Meade, told Observer he does not agree with the closure, and while Roseau’s recommendation will allow gyms to stay open, he insisted that the government needs to attack the spread of the virus from the source.
“They asked us to put certain things in place and I don’t think any of us have deviated from what they put in place initially, but if you don’t control where the disease is coming from, or how it gets into Antigua, no amount of cleaning here, and cleaning there, is going to stop it,“ he declared.
His recommendation is for the government to ensure that travelers are administered a second test before or when they arrive at their accommodations, and before they are allowed to move around in the country.
As part of the new regulations, the government has mandated government quarantine for returning nationals for a full 14 days.