Coronavirus: Singapore

Mask-off activities in gyms, fitness studios possible from June 21

As Singapore eases restrictions on social interactions from Monday, gyms and fitness studios will have to wait a little longer to find out if they can resume their indoor operations.

The multi-ministry task force on Covid-19 said yesterday that if the coronavirus situation remains under control in the coming week, gyms and fitness studios will be allowed to resume indoor mask-off sports activities with safe management measures from June 21.

These measures include social distancing of at least 2m between individuals and at least 3m between groups of up to five people.

Indoor and outdoor sports classes can also be carried out in multiple groups of five, with a cap of 30 people, including the instructor.

Participants will be allowed to unmask if they are doing strenuous activities, but are encouraged to remain masked where possible.

Under the current heightened alert measures for phase two, which took effect on May 16, only low-intensity physical activities such as yoga and pilates can take place at public and private gyms and fitness studios.

Organised programmes and classes for low-intensity activities have been allowed only for groups of two.

Singapore Fitness Alliance president Sean Tan said the latest announcement was a pleasant surprise for the industry as many had not expected activities that did not require the wearing of masks to resume so soon.

Mr Tan, who is also the director of True Group, said: "In general, the fitness industry has been elated with today's announcement as we will reopen on June 21 with a mask-off policy, and that is a huge relief.

"It underscores the Government's belief that the fitness sector is an important one, and we can get back to getting people back in our gyms and studios to resume their fitness regimen."

Eligible gyms and fitness studios can tap 50 per cent wage support under the Jobs Support Scheme (JSS) until June 20 - extended from June 13. From June 21 to June 30, affected sectors will receive 10 per cent JSS support.

When indoor activities in gyms and fitness studios are allowed to resume, staff with unmasked clients will be required to undergo regular Covid-19 testing.

This is part of the regular fast and easy testing regime for staff involved in "higher-risk mask-off" activities which will be introduced next month.

Mr Tan agreed the testing regime is necessary for businesses to reopen and believed it will give members the confidence to return to gyms.

But while the Government will cover the cost of testing over the next three months, he expressed concerns about the added costs after that, saying: "We hope that the testing costs will not be prohibitive, and that there can be more support for these costs."

Mass participatory sports events such as runs could also be allowed to resume from June 21, with a maximum of 250 participants if pre-event testing is implemented.

If participants are not tested before the event, only 50 people will be allowed to take part.

From Monday, spectators will be allowed to return to sports events such as Singapore Premier League (SPL) football matches or mixed martial arts outfit One Championship's shows.

The number of spectators will be capped at 250 attendees with pre-event testing, while no testing is required for events with 50 or fewer fans.

A spokesman for the Football Association of Singapore said it "will decide the conditions for re-entry of SPL fans into match venues" only closer to the SPL's resumption next month, after the current international break.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 11, 2021, with the headline 'Mask-off activities in gyms, fitness studios possible from June 21'. Subscribe