HARARE – The local fitness industry has welcomed the government’s relaxation of operating times for businesses during this coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
Initially when Covid-19 was declared a national disaster in March, all sporting activities were banned while gymnasiums were closed down as a precautionary measure.
However, three months ago, the government allowed gyms to reopen but they were given strict operating times between 8am and 4.30pm.
This saw most fitness establishments failing to attract their regular clientele due to the inflexible operating times.
But on Monday, the Covid-19 National Taskforce announced new operating times of 8am to 6.30pm for most businesses.
As a result, the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) also allowed gyms to adjust their business hours. “SRC hereby gives notice of the decision by the government…through the Ministry of…Sport to grant authority for the adjustment of operating times for registered sport and recreational facilities (clubs and gyms).
“This approval is pursuant to the recommendations made by the SRC on behalf of the sport and recreation sector to the minister…this approval is only applied to registered clubs and gyms.
“In this regard SRC is urging all unregistered sport and recreational facilities to do so without further delay in order to comply with the law. All the protocols for the prevention and containment of Covid-19 remain applicable and must be observed at all times,” the SRC said in a statement.
Pro Fitness Borrowdale Gym owner Farzana Kahn Hussein said the new times are a breath of fresh air though more can still be done.
“We are really relieved that this has happened now. The whole industry was on the brink of difficult decisions regarding the viability of operating. We hope that we normalise soon,” Hussein told the Daily News yesterday.
National Federation of Zimbabwe Bodybuilding and Fitness secretary- general Quiet Shangai also welcomed the new operating times.
“A fairly good development but the SRC needs to understand that people go to gyms before or after work.
“It is therefore important to present a paper to the ministry. A person requires at least 90 minutes in the gym. An aerobics class lasts for a minimum of one hour for instance and you then need at least 30 minutes to organise yourself and go to work.
“It is important for all stakeholders to sit down and come up with a position paper so that we can advise the responsible authorities accordingly otherwise gyms will continue to operate at a loss.
“However, we welcome the development; at least some of us will train between 6.30am and 7.30am and rush to work,” said Shangai.