Pune: Gyms to remain shut; owners threaten to go on strike

Akshay Badwe
Friday, 31 July 2020

The gym owners in Pune city have threatened to launch a hunger strike if they are not allowed to reopen the gyms from August 5

Pune: The gym owners in Pune city have threatened to launch a hunger strike if they are not allowed to reopen the gyms from August 5.

Though theatres, swimming pools, educational institutes would remain shut in the third phase, the central government allowed gyms and yoga centres to begin operations in Unlock 3.

Just a day after publicising a fresh set of relaxations of COVID-19 guidelines for the Maharashtra state, the government on Thursday declared a clarification saying that indoor gyms and other fitness centres shall continue to remain shut in the upcoming phase of ‘unlock’ (till August 31).

The Maharashtra government said, “Indoor gymnasiums and other fitness centres to remain closed in the next phase of ‘Mission Begin Again’. Only outdoor centres for exercise and gymnastics can remain open from August 5, following all social distancing and hygiene protocols for Covid-19.”

“August 5 is the deadline. If we are not allowed to open by then, we will launch a hunger strike. This is the only option left but to engage in agitation as from last four months, the condition of gym and fitness centres is extremely bad,” Nilesh Kale, President, Pune Fitness Club Association, said.

“We already assured the administration that all fitness centres and gyms will follow strict rules such as members will have to book slots to avoid overcrowding, follow social distancing, limited entry and more but still gyms are closed and now it is difficult to survive,” he added.

The gym owners have been requesting the government to allow reopening as a number of professionals linked with the healthcare sector were rendered jobless. The owners were also embarrassed for money as they had to pay rent, electricity bills, EMIs of the gym floor.

Balkrishna Nidhalkar, the owner of BM Fitness, said, “Gyms are closed for four months now. The loss is huge and right from gym owners to the gym trainers, it’s a surviving time. Multiple times, we have requested the state government to allow gyms reopen but we are not getting any positive reply. The operational costs will also shoot up as the gyms will now have to hire extra staff only for sanitising but let gyms be open now with required SOPs.”

Meanwhile, the Uddhav Thackeray government on Wednesday extended the lockdown in the state till August 31 amid the rising COVID-19 cases, which has now crossed the four lakh mark.

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