Fitness stakeholders lauded the Department of Trade and Industry’s support to allow fitness clubs and wellness centers to operate under Alert Level 4—a quarantine level in Metro Manila and neighboring provinces imposed by the Inter Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.
DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez, in a recent briefing in Malacanang, batted for the inclusion of fitness centers as part of the essential sector during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“From our end as well as other agencies, we see the rationale and the justification that gyms can help in boosting peoples’ immunity through exercise, especially as we are in the fight against COVID-19,” Lopez said.
“Napakagandang balita po nito. Paghahandaan na namin ang protocol. Mabubuhay na po uli ang aming industriya at maraming matutulungan na mga taong gustong maging healthy and fit during the pandemic,” said Romeo Moderno Jr., martial arts coach at Supima Fitness Centers.
“We won,” said fitness enthusiast Franco Mabanta, who cited the tireless lobbying of the fitness groups, led by the Fitness Alliance of the Philippines.
Lopez said pilot testing for gradual reopening of fitness clubs and gyms will start this month. Health protocols will be formulated, similar to dine-in in restaurants and personal services, which are now opened under limited capacity.
Among the biggest stakeholders in the fitness industry largely affected by the lockdown are Anytime Fitness, Gold’s Gym, Fitness First Philippines, UFC GYM Philippines and Slimmers’ World International.
Lopez said re-opening of fitness gyms will also help bring back jobs while helping people fight COVID-19 by boosting their immunity.
“Bottom line here, it (gym) is essential and it will boost immunity. And the virus is here to stay so we should manage how to function in a very safe manner and save very small businesses and jobs,” he added.
For a while, fitness gyms were allowed to operate under a 20 percent capacity under the General Community Quarantine, but were closed again when “Metro Manila Plus” went back to Modified General Community Quarantine due to COVID-19 surge.
“Sana, tuloy-tuloy na ito kasi talagang magtatagal naman ang COVID so basta ingat lang talaga and strict health protocols,” said coach Monith Pabroa of Elements MMA.