GYM owners and users in Cork and across the country have called for gyms to be deemed an essential service and be permitted to remain open during the Level Five lockdown.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin confirmed on Monday that Level 5 restrictions will come into force from midnight tonight for six weeks, in a bid to slow the spread of Covid-19 and avoid a ‘grave situation’.
Level 5 restrictions will see the closure of all non-essential services, including gyms, while schools will remain open.
However, since the new lockdown measures were announced, calls have come for gyms to be deemed an essential service and be permitted to remain open over the coming six weeks. More than 35,000 people have signed a petition calling on the Irish Government to deem gyms as an essential service for the mental and physical well being of the population of this country.
Greg Kenny is the managing director of One Life Fitness gym in Cork city and his brother, Jack, is also involved with the gym.
Speaking to The Echo, Mr Kenny said gyms should be deemed an essential service.
“They play a massive, massive factor in people’s mental and physical health, and they also play a part in people’s social and day-to-day lives,” he explained.
“Most of our members have contacted us to say they want the gym to remain open — it’s an important part of people’s lives.
“It’s their leisure time and their escape. The fact that gyms focus on people’s health and we’re in the middle of a pandemic, I think it doesn’t make sense to close them.
“We’re going out of our way now to provide our members with live online classes to give them that daily exercise because daily routines are so important to people, especially when other aspects of that routine are up in the air.”
Mr Kenny explained that staff at One Life Fitness have been following Covid-19 guidelines to the letter to ensure the safety of staff and gym users.
“We have been following all Covid precautions and the rate of infection in gyms is so small,” he said. “It seems a little bit harsh to close gyms when you see businesses in areas of manufacturing, construction and more are still open.
“I understand that they’re trying to stop people congregating but they could have just dropped the maximum number of people allowed in gyms instead of closing us down completely.
“At the moment it’s 50 people but we could have dropped it down to 25 and spaced people out throughout the day.
“If you’re not feeling well because you have symptoms of Covid-19, you’re not going to go to the gym.”