Indoor, mask-off, high-intensity sports activities can resume on Tuesday for fully vaccinated persons in groups of up to five

Gyms and fitness studios will also have to adhere to the "vaccinate or regular test" regime, which will take effect from Oct 1.
Gyms and fitness studios will also have to adhere to the "vaccinate or regular test" regime, which will take effect from Oct 1.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

SINGAPORE - With most strenuous indoor activities halted since phase 2 (heightened alert) measures kicked in on July 22, communications manager Eveline How's workout sessions with her personal trainer have moved online or outdoors.

However, the new arrangement has not been ideal as the sessions are occasionally disrupted by bad weather.

But the 47-year-old will be able to work out in the comfort of her gym from Tuesday, after the Ministry of Health (MOH) announced yesterday that fully vaccinated individuals will be allowed to participate in indoor, mask-off, high-intensity activities in groups of up to five.

Strenuous indoor exercises classes as well as strenuous individual and group indoor sports and exercise activities have not been allowed to take place since July 22 under phase 2 (heightened alert) measures following a spike in community cases.

How, who trains at Strength Avenue, said: "It's great that now it (training) can be done under (in-person) supervision and I'll feel more assured that I'm doing squats correctly.

"There's also a wider range of equipment I can use at the gym."

The latest easing of measures is part of Singapore's plan to become a Covid-19 resilient nation and will take place in two phases, starting with the preparatory stage that begins on Tuesday.

Under the new measures, unvaccinated individuals who produce a negative test result or recovered patients can also be part of these indoor, mask-off, high-intensity activities that are limited to groups of five.

Hygieia Strength & Conditioning gym owner Shaun Pang said the latest announcement was a pleasant surprise as the phase 2 (heightened alert) measures were initially supposed to be in effect till Aug 18.

Pang, who has seen revenue dip by at least 50 per cent, said: "We understand that the authorities are learning from other countries and shut gyms to prevent any potential clusters, but gyms haven't really been an issue worldwide."

Singapore Fitness Alliance president Sean Tan believes things are looking up for the industry as vaccination rates have risen steadily in the past weeks, saying: "Our Government has confidently laid out their road map for us to live with the virus being endemic.

"I would like to believe that from here on, we will see only changes in the right direction for safe distancing measures."

The limit for spectator sports will be capped at 500 if all attendees are fully vaccinated, and at 50 without pre-event testing.

If the situation remains under control, that will increase to 1,000 people from Aug 19 for those who have received two doses of a vaccine.

But only 50 spectators are allowed for events that do not implement pre-event testing.

Gyms and fitness studios will also have to adhere to the "vaccinate or regular test" regimen, which will take effect from Oct 1. Those who are unvaccinated also have to undergo regular testing.

While Pang understands the rationale behind that, he hopes to get support, pointing out that "the additional expenditure of the test kits will put a further strain on the finances".

When at least 80 per cent of the population is fully vaccinated, more measures will be eased, with differentiated safe distancing rules for vaccinated and unvaccinated persons, said the MOH.

The vaccination rate stands at 67 per cent now, with about 70 per cent of population expected to be fully vaccinated by Monday.

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