Increased safety measures at sports facilities as demand surges for phase 2 reopening

All EnergyOne gyms within Safra clubs will have self-disinfecting coating applied to equipment and commonly touched surfaces. PHOTO: SAFRA

SINGAPORE - Sports facilities here are enhancing safety measures and hygiene protocols in preparation for reopening on Friday (June 19).

These venues, which include stadiums, swimming complexes, sports halls, hard courts, gyms, fitness studios and bowling centres, were on Monday given the green light to reopen in two days. This also applies to those located in condominiums, golf and country clubs.

Orchid Country Club general manager Emmanuel Lem told The Straits Times that buggies have been fitted with a divider to separate golfers, and these will be cleaned and disinfected after every round.

To maintain safe distancing, flight interval times have been increased, while a touch-free ball retrieval system will be used and bunker rakes and mini pin flags removed to reduce contact. Alternate bays will be used at the driving range.

He added: "Demand has been high with calls streaming in, but we will adhere strictly to the Government's Safe Management Measures during our reopening."

The Sentosa Golf Club will open its courses from Friday, and members can book their slots from Wednesday. Its precautionary measures include having golfers check in at dedicated single access points, retrofitting the club's main doors with automatic swing arms to reduce touch points and allocating one golfer per cart unless two people are from the same household.

The 2018 Singapore Golf Industry Report noted there were 46,000 golfers that held membership to the 12 private country clubs here and 55 per cent of them were over the age of 55.

Gyms and fitness studios are also taking similar steps. All EnergyOne gyms within the six Safra clubs will have self-disinfecting coating applied to equipment and commonly touched surfaces ahead of reopening on Friday.

At the Safra Punggol gym, shields will be installed between cardio machines such as treadmills, stationary bikes and steppers on a trial basis, to minimise the dispersion of respiratory droplets when gym goers engage in high-intensity workouts.

Yoga Movement co-founder and managing director Peter Thew is awaiting further guidelines from the authorities on areas such as limits to class sizes before announcing a reopening date.

A 22-page document of standard operating procedures has been disseminated to staff in preparation for resuming operations, Thew told ST. The document includes information on check-in processes, cleaning frequency and what to do if there is a Covid-19 case at any of its six studios here.

"That has to be a part of our SOP, we can't just shut our eyes and hope nothing happens. We have to plan for it in case it does and we have to be very transparent on how we can work with the government with regard to contact tracing and also keep staff and clients safe," he added.

Sean Tan, board chairman and director of True Group, which owns and operates the 10 True Fitness and TFX gyms here, said its is exploring the possibility of time slot bookings to avoid intermingling of groups.

He said: "We're all ready, it's a matter of what the specific details for the controls for gyms and fitness studios are. We have different contingency plans in place."

Gym chain Virgin Active is also awaiting confirmation of guidelines from national governing body Sport Singapore, with Julien Bera, country director of Virgin Active Singapore noting that it has been "planning a secure operational strategy for its reopening to ensure the precautionary measures for members and staff are of the highest level".

In addition to temperature checks, frequent cleaning and contact tracing, staff will also be restricted to verbal technique corrections with members.

While many gym nuts are eager to resume their workouts, some are adopting a wait-and-see approach.

Ngee Ann Polytechnic student Chia Jin Jun, who used to exercise regularly at the gym at his friend's condominium in Bukit Batok, said: "Even though I am really excited to work out using the machines again, I am willing to wait it out a few days to see how the situation goes and whether it is really safe for us to be back in the gym.

"For gyms, I am confident in the safety measures because to me, it will be easier to manage with more de-sanitisation and limiting the number of people in the gym," added the 20-year-old.

Additional reporting by Kimberly Kwek and Neo Yee Pung

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