Wearing masks, six-feet spacing and limiting gym visits to just one hour are some of the guidelines set out by government for the re-opening of gyms and fitness centres.

The Ministry of Health released guidelines for gyms and fitness centres ahead of the next phase of re-opening for these businesses on June 22.

Guidelines for Gyms and Fitness Centres

The Guidelines apply to all Gyms and Fitness Centres, and services and activities therein. It is the responsibility of the owners of Gyms and Fitness Centres to communicate these Guidelines to their members via announcements, signs, bulletins, websites and social media.

All staff members are to be trained, virtually, or in-person on the use of the following Guidelines:

Signage to be posted on COVID-19 guidelines

1. Signage outlining the new regulations (e.g. physical distancing, the use of face masks/shields, hand sanitization, cough etiquette) are to be posted at highly visible locations outside and within the facility.

2. Establish a housekeeping schedule to incorporate routine cleaning and sanitisation with regular, frequent, and periodic cleaning of equipment, seating areas (tables, stools, chairs and counters tops); all surface areas, restrooms and shared items

3. Ensure cleaning and sanitisation before opening and at the close of business. Surfaces should be cleaned frequently throughout opening hours;

4. Ensure that high-touch surfaces such as door knobs, tables, stools, chairs, benches, countertops, restrooms and equipment are properly disinfected on a frequent or periodic basis, using a bleach solution of 5 tablespoons (1/3 cup) per gallon of water (US 3.8L) or 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water or 70% alcohol solutions or other EPA-approved disinfectant;

5. Entry and exit points must be equipped with hand sanitization apparatus (60% alcohol based hand sanitizer or sinks with soap and water);

6. Where possible, set-up hand sanitizer dispensers at various locations throughout the facility;

7. Ensure that cleaning or disinfecting product residues are not left on table surfaces, as residues could cause allergic reactions or cause someone to ingest the chemicals;

8. Clean shared objects such as but not limited to treadmills, weights, bikes, benches, leg press, curls & extensions, ropes and machines and other related items in use including tables, countertops and chairs;

9. Ensure safe and correct use and storage of disinfectants to avoid food contamination and harm to employees and other individuals;

10. Allow 15-minute intervals between personal training sessions or group classes to allow for thorough sanitization of all equipment utilized;

11. Ensure proper ventilation throughout the facility. Where possible, the use of airconditioning should be minimised and outdoor air should be introduced by opening windows and doors;

12. Saunas and steam baths should be limited to one (1) member at a time with supporting cleaning and sanitisation before and after use;

13. Ensure disposable disinfectant wipes and/or suitable disinfectant and disposable cloth-like material for wiping surfaces are available at all locations;

14. Garbage cans should be strategically placed at multiple locations throughout the facility to allows clients to dispose of gloves, tissues or disinfecting wipes; and

Non-essential amenities such as magazines and books should be removed from reception areas to avoid cross-contamination.

Personal Hygiene

1. Post visual alerts (e.g., signs, posters) at the entrance and in strategic locations e.g., restrooms; point(s) of sale and cash registers, to provide instructions (in appropriate languages) about hand hygiene, respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette. Instructions should include wearing a cloth face covering, face mask or face shield for source control, and how and when to perform hand hygiene

2. Endorse and encourage proper face mask/shield etiquette when entering and exiting the establishment. Where possible, clients and instructors may use face shields during the exercise and fitness programme. Face shields should provide coverage below the level of the chin and should meet other relevant ISO standards

3. Clients are encouraged to bring personal disinfectant wipes and other related items to the Gym and Fitness Centres for personal use

4. Provide an adequate supply of 60% alcohol-based hand sanitizer at hand washing facilities or stations (fixed or portable), soap and running water for use before entry; paper towels and tissue. It would be ideal to have easy open-close taps or pedal actuated/hands free taps

5. Endorse and encourage proper cough and sneeze etiquette within the establishment, either with a tissue or using the inside of their elbow

6. Anyone who is ill or exhibits any of the following symptoms (fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, muscle pain, headache, sore-throat, or recent loss of taste or smell) should not be allowed to enter the establishment

7. Anyone who is immunocompromised and/or has a vulnerable pulmonary disease should not attend the Gym and Fitness Centres

8. Anyone with a potential exposure to someone exhibiting any of the above symptoms or a confirmed case of COVID-19 should not enter the establishment until the period of quarantine ends (to be certified by County Medical Officer of Health)

9. Encourage employees and clients to frequently wash hands while at the establishment. The use of touch-free technology for sinks, bathroom fixtures is encouraged. Elbow taps may also be utilized.

No sick staff/patrons allowed

1. Workers and patrons who are sick or exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 should not be allowed entry;

2. All persons are required to wear a face covering, mask or shield when entering the premises and to undergo screening with a contactless thermometer for fever and symptoms consistent with COVID-19;

3. If a person has a temperature < 37.5˚C and otherwise, without symptoms consistent with COVID-19, then he/she is allowed to enter;

4. If a person has a temperature > 37.5˚C with fever or strongly associated symptoms consistent with COVID-19, then he/she is not allowed into the premises;

5. Notify local health officials or call the health hotline ( 800-WELL or 877-WELL (9355)) if a person diagnosed with COVID-19 has been in the facility and communicate with staff and patrons about potential exposure while maintaining confidentiality as required;

6. Identify a separate area to quarantine anyone who exhibits symptoms of COVID-19 during hours of operation;

7. Establish procedures for safely transporting anyone who becomes sick at the establishment to their home or a healthcare facility;

8. Advise those with exposure to a person diagnosed with COVID-19 to call the health hotline ( 800-WELL or 877-WELL (9355)) or seek medical attention at the nearest healthcare provider if severely ill;

9. Close off areas used by the sick person and do not use the area until after cleaning and disinfection (as advised by County Medical Officer of Health);

10. Advise staff and patrons with symptoms of COVID-19 or those who have tested positive for COVID-19 not to return to the establishment until his/her symptoms cease, as confirmed by a Medical Practitioner with supporting documentation;

11. Safely and respectfully conduct daily health checks of staff (e.g., temperature screening (in a shaded or indoor area) and/or or symptom checking) in accordance with any applicable privacy laws and regulations; and

12. Encourage employees who are sick or who have had recent contact with a person with COVID-19 to stay at home. Develop policies that encourage this to remove employees fear of reprisal.

Six feet apart, no circuit training, one hour limit for customers

1. Provide physical guides, such as tape on floors and signage, to ensure that individuals remain at least 6 feet apart while using exercise equipment such as treadmills, weights, bikes, benches, leg press, curls & extensions, ropes and other related machines;

2. Modify the layout of the establishment to ensure the equipment remains 6 feet apart with greater distancing for treadmills and other high-exertion aerobic fitness equipment. Where possible, install physical barriers to segregate exercise areas or create physical distancing. Mark off equipment that is not for use;

3. The Instructor and client should maintain a physical distance at least 6 feet apart for individual sessions and 10-12 feet apart for group sessions

4. Rotate and stagger shifts to limit the number of employees in the establishment at any one time

5. Institute the use of a scheduling system for clients in order to manage the number of persons within the facility at any given point in time. Each client is allowed only 60 minutes in the Gym and Fitness Centre.

6. Ensure that each client entering the facility is given a briefing on the new measures utilized (e.g. how to clean and sanitize equipment, adherence to the physical distancing practices)

7. Clients must bring their own towels and exercise mats to the facility. There should be no sharing of gym towels, mats or other related items at this time

8. No circuit training, where multiple pieces of equipment are used in quick rotation, to be permitted at this time

9. Group session exercises, such as aerobics, should be conducted in an open-air setting. If this is not possible, then there should be sufficient physical distancing, of 10-12 feet apart, with the use of face shields by instructors and clients.

With aerobics and spin rooms, only 10 clients are allowed within a square footage of 1,000

10. Where accessories (e.g. resistance bands, foam rollers) are provided by the facility, implement a check-out system to ensure that each item is returned to staff for sanitization after every use;

11. Clients must disinfect any equipment utilised, immediately after use, with disinfecting wipes and/or suitable disinfectant and disposable cloth-like material for wiping surfaces as provided by the facility. If clients are unable to disinfect equipment after use, the equipment should be immediately attended to by a staff member for sanitization before another client is allowed to utilize the equipment;

12. Clients are encouraged to bring personnel disinfectant wipes and other related items to the Gym and Fitness Centres for use;

13. Client contact data must be collected for every client (time of entry and exit, class attended or trainer utilized) to ensure that proper contact tracing can be conducted if the need arises

14. Juice bars and other food services should adhere to the Food Safety and Restaurant and Bars Guidelines.

Responsibility of Owner

1. Promote healthy hygiene practices at the establishment at all times including the wearing of masks and/or face shields by instructors;

2. Intensify cleaning, sanitation and disinfection and ventilation of the establishment;

3. Encourage physical distancing and enhance spacing at the establishment;

4. Train all employees on health and safety protocols;

5. Develop and maintain procedures to check for signs and symptoms of illnesses of all employees;

6. Develop and implement a Plan for ill employees or patrons and communicate this plan to members of staff;

7. Prepare a contact listing of the relevant authorities that need to be informed of any ill persons;

8. Provide proper signage for clients (e.g. sanitizer location, mask/ shield wearing signs, food pick up/ordering locations);

9. Institute the use of a scheduling system for clients in order to manage the number of persons within the facility at any given point in time;

10. Develop a register of all clients who utilise the Gym and Fitness Centre including name, address, telephone contact and email address; and

11. Ensure and maintain daily signing and signing out on the register.

Responsibility of Client/User

1. Clients who are ill or exhibit/report any of the following symptoms (fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, muscle pain, headache, sore-throat, or recent loss of taste or smell) should not be allowed to enter the establishment;

2. Strictly adhere to these Guidelines prior to use and duration of use and exit of the Gym and Fitness Centre, including screening for temperature, physical distancing of 6 feet apart and sanitizing of equipment and related items before and after use;

3. Clients are encouraged to bring and use personal disinfectant wipes, face shields and other related items to the Gym and Fitness Centres before and after use of equipment/s and other related materials;

4. Clients must bring their own towels and exercise mats to the facility. There should be no sharing of gym towels, mats or other related items at this time; and

5. Ensure daily signing and signing out of the register including name, address, telephone contact and email address.

The Ministry said the Office of the Chief Medical Officer will officially communicate the Guidelines to all owners/managers of Gyms and Fitness Centres to ensure effective implementation and compliance.

Thereafter, continuous assessment and reporting on the adherence of these Guidelines should be implemented to ensure strict compliance.

The Ministry said County Medical Officers of Health and Public Health Inspectors will provide continuous assessment and reporting to the Chief Medical Officer on the implementation of these Guidelines through continuous site visits and inspection of the establishment to ensure the strict adherence to the Guidelines in order to reduce the threat and mitigate the risk of spread of COVID-19.