Coronavirus: Fraternity cheers as sports facilities given nod to open from June 19

These include stadiums, swimming complexes, sports halls, hard courts, gyms, fitness studios and bowling centres. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - For the last two months, Catherine Kwek has been on long walks every weekend to fill the void left by her inability to play golf.

The 45-year-old, who works in logistics, will soon be able to return to her passion, after sports facilities were on Monday (June 15) given the green light to reopen on Friday.

These include stadiums, swimming complexes, sports halls, hard courts, gyms, fitness studios and bowling centres. This guidance also applies to similar facilities in private settings such as condominiums and golf and country clubs.

Kwek, who used to play golf thrice a week, told The Straits Times: "Over the weekends, it was definitely a must to golf, so not playing golf during the weekend over the last two months felt like something was missing and I was getting withdrawal symptoms.

"I'm excited and looking forward to playing golf again."

Sports facilities here have been closed since April 7, when the circuit breaker measures to stem the spread of the coronavirus kicked in. These facilities remained shut during the Republic's first phase of reopening, which started from June 2.

The reopening of sports facilities is subject to individuals maintaining safe distancing of at least one metre at all times. Where this is not feasible or practical, such as in group training for team sports such as football, this one-metre requirement can instead be enforced between groups, with each group made up of no more than five persons and with no mixing between groups.

Members of the sports community were pleased to hear the news, with some stressing that individuals must still act responsibly despite the easing of restrictions.

Rajesh Mulani, co-owner of The Cage, an indoor football facility, told The Straits Times: "For a contact sport like football, it's going to be challenging to get a game going, so it'll likely be that academies can start with some technical work."

He said he and his partner plan to offer football fitness training for adults "just to give football addicts a little bit of relief before we get to the stage where contact is allowed".

"The key is to do it sensibly - to be able to manage crowds, have dedicated entrances and exits, temperature screening and cleaning between groups," he stressed.

Clement Teo, coach of Singapore Premier League club Hougang United, said the club would probably divide its players into groups of five when they resume training.

"We're breaking them into defenders, midfielders and strikers, and the strikers will be with the goalkeepers," he added. "It's very important for us to be socially responsible - it's been a long time but we can't let our hair down just like this, we still need to be careful."

Some, like Singapore Hockey Federation (SHF) president Mathavan Devadas, are waiting for further guidance from Sport Singapore (SportSG). SportSG, which runs most public sports facilities as well as governs sports and exercise policy in the Republic, is expected to issue an advisory on its guidelines for the safe return to sporting action soon.

The SHF is preparing a document on how to return to hockey safely, which will include hygiene measures and drills that can be done when training resumes.

"We still need guidance from ActiveSG before we finalise the document and send it to affiliates, as the venues belong to SportSG," said Mathavan.

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Sean Tan, chairman of the board and director of True Group, which owns and operates the 10 True Fitness and TFX gyms in Singapore, is "raring to go".

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. The devil is in the details. It's good that we are opening up."

Carol Cabal, co-founder of boutique gym Tribody Fitness, welcomed the announcement but was also apprehensive at the same time.

She said: "We understand that some of our clients are not comfortable with returning, while others are excited. They have to be comfortable again to do the usual thing they did so we will be patient and we are here to cater to their needs."

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