By Genalyn Kabiling
It may not yet be safe to reopen gyms and other fitness studios due to the risk of transmitting the new coronavirus disease, according to Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez.
Lopez said gyms, which are among the establishments temporarily shut down by the government, are considered “high-risk” places for the spread of the coronavirus based on the advice
given by health experts. The coronavirus can still lurk on frequently touched exercise equipment, he added.
“Under the GCQ (general community quarantine) po, we were advised na hindi muna (not yet to allow it) because of high risk. Kasi po as we reviewed the sectors to be opened, it is always finding that balance between iyong transmission rate, potential transmission rate and also the essential nature of the business,” Lopez said over government
television last Saturday when asked if if gym will be allowed to operate during the quarantine period.
“It seems the virus can stay on many of the equipment. It’s so difficult to really check na frequently sanitized itong mga items na ito, talking of mga gym equipment in general. So marami silang hinahawakan diyan, metal pa, so hindi po advisable na mag-operate muna. (Many metal equipment are often touched so it is not advisable to allow the gyms to operate),” he added.
The government has placed Metro Manila and eight geographic areas under enhanced community quarantine until mid-May. Among the quarantine measures include home quarantine rule except for essential activities, suspension of public transportation, ban on large gatherings, class suspension, and alternative work arrangements for many companies.
A more relaxed general community quarantine, on the other hand, is in effect in several areas with moderate and low risk of coronavirus spread. Public transportation is allowed at reduced capacity while many businesses and services have been allowed to operate subject to health protocols.
The government however has temporarily closed down amusement, gaming and fitness establishments as well as kid and tourism industries to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
In his recent remarks, Lopez remained hopeful that the country can fully reopen the economy, particularly allow more businesses and services to operate, as soon as the country’s cases of coronavirus will decrease.
“Anyway, hopefully, two weeks na lang po ang ating hinihintay para ho ma-open na hopefully sana lahat ito and of course, with more stringent health protocols to be recommended after,” he said.