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Taiwan's fitness centers to reopen on July 13

World Gym, Curves will open under new rules but worry they are hard to implement

Treadmills seen in World Gym on July 8.

Treadmills seen in World Gym on July 8. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan's Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) on Thursday (July 8) announced the Level 3 alert will be extended to July 26, but restrictions in many sectors will be relaxed, including fitness centers, such as World Gym and Curves.

At a press briefing on Thursday, Health Minister and CECC head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) announced that although case numbers have steadily dropped, there is still the possibility of local infections and for that reason, the country's Level 3 alert will continue to July 26. However, the CECC has decided to relax restrictions in some sectors, such as national parks, museums, movie theaters, restaurants, and sports centers, starting on July 13.

Among the types of venues that will open on July 13 are "indoor and outdoor sports grounds and stadiums." These include fitness gyms and golf courses but exclude swimming pools.

Taiwan's fitness centers to reopen on July 13
Sticker reminds customers to maintain a social distance of 1.5 meters. (CNA photo)

According to the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Education, venues must implement real-name registration and crowd control, with facilities only allowed to operate at 25 percent of their normal capacity. Face masks must be worn and social distancing maintained at all times.

Equipment must be spaced apart and disinfected after each use. Equipment cannot be shared.

People must avoid physical contact with others while in these facilities. Team competitions are banned, while participants in group classes must maintain a social distance of two meters from each other.

Taiwan's fitness centers to reopen on July 13
World Gym employee wipes down barbells. (CNA photo)

The number of fitness classrooms and students must also be reduced. Courses must be spaced at least one hour apart and instructors are required to undergo rapid antigen testing once a week.

When teaching one-on-one, trainers can only demonstrate movements instead of coming in contact with clients. Trainers must wear a mask or face shield throughout the training session, and cannot provide services that involve close contact such as massage or assisted stretching.

Facilities such as swimming pools, showers, steam rooms, saunas, and hot tubs must remain closed.

Taiwan's fitness centers to reopen on July 13
World Gym employee cleans shower stall. (CNA photo)

Many in the industry doubt the viability of these directives, such as the ban on "sharing equipment," since gyms are largely comprised of machines that are "shared." Many question the ability of gymgoers to maintain the recommended social distance when exercising, while others think clients will find the wearing of face masks during high-intensity exercise to be prohibitively taxing.

Some gym owners worry that customers will find all the new regulations difficult to abide by and may consider it all too much of a hassle to bother coming. Others are considering staying closed until the end of the extended Level 3 alert on July 26 to avoid the trouble of trying to meet all the requirements.

Curves Taiwan announced on its Facebook page on Thursday that it is drawing up a plan to open up on July 13 and will provide more details in the coming days. On its Facebook page on Friday, World Gym Taiwan announced that it will be reopening to members on July 13, with a number of new rules in place.

Taiwan's fitness centers to reopen on July 13
World Gym employee cleans inside of sauna. (CNA photo)

Taiwan's fitness centers to reopen on July 13
Epidemic prevention regulations for indoor sports facilities. (MOE image)