New safety measures for NSW gyms as coronavirus cases rise

Fitness centres to have a COVID-19 Safe Hygiene Marshal on-site at all times.

The NSW government has announced new restrictions for gyms and fitness centres, with facilities required to have a “COVID-19 Safe Hygiene Marshal” on-site at all times.

Under the new rules all gyms and fitness centres must register a COVID Safety Plan and have a dedicated  COVID-19 Safe Hygiene Marshal on duty during operational hours. Businesses who fail to be compliant will risk facing a fine or venue closure.

The new restrictions, which take effect from Saturday 1 August, come as the state records 19 new COVID-19 cases,  bringing the total number of cases to 3529.

Earlier this week a Fitness First gym in Kings Cross confirmed the facility had undergone a deep clean after one person who attended the gym for a class on July 20 had tested positive.

Minister for customer service Victor Dominello said the extra measures are necessary to stop the spread of the virus.

“Without proper COVID safeguards, they may present a transmission risk and that is why we need operators to put their customers first by registering their COVID Safety Plan,” Dominello said.

“Whether it’s maintaining social distancing, cleaning equipment after use or making hand sanitiser available for customers, these dedicated COVID Safe Hygiene Marshals will play a pivotal role in keeping gyms safe and compliant.”

Fitness Australia CEO Barrie Elvish said while there has been reported cases in gyms, they can be a safe environment when strict procedures are clearly communicated and enforced.

“It is Fitness Australia’s understanding that there has been no cases of transmission within a gym environment, rather cases of people attending while infected such as yesterday’s Fitness First report,” Elvish said.

“Gyms can be a COVID safe environment when strict procedures are enforced, and many facilities and businesses are already going above and beyond to ensure the health and safety of everyone – including robust contact tracing due to strict electronic access for members.

“We are urging all fitness professionals, gym and health club staff and members to do the right thing and abide by these new requirements to avoid further restrictions being imposed on the industry.”

Bridget Gardner, director of HPC Solutions, told Inclean it is important gym owners ask cleaning companies the right questions about their qualifications and cleaning processes.

“Gym owners should ask cleaning companies about the qualifications their cleaning personnel or supervisors hold, and what hand hygiene, cross-contamination prevention, and cloth/mop laundering processes they have in place.

“A person who is infected by coronavirus, but still asymptomatic and unaware, will have the potential to shed more virus in a gym than in a normal building.

“They will be sweating, touching more equipment, and breathing harder as they exert themselves. Other gym members are likely to have more bare skin in contact with the surface and also breathing more heavily, exposing themselves to the virus.”

Gardner said it is important for gym members to use alcohol-based disinfectant wipe on every surface they touch. However, the handles of gym equipment often have textured surfaces for gripping, which makes it harder to clean away organic matter that could be carrying the virus with a single disposable wipe.

“It is imperative that more time is allowed for after-hours cleaning services, to ensure that every single touched surface is thoroughly cleaned before disinfecting.”

According to Gardner, who has recently released a new cleaning training manual, The Guide to Cleaning for COVID -19, floors should be vacuumed with equipment containing HEPA filtration and ideally, mopped with flat mops that can be more readily washed and dried.

If there are carpeted floors in exercise rooms, they must be cleaned regularly with hot-water extraction carpet cleaning equipment.

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