Coronavirus Singapore

No mask-off indoor sports and exercise activities from tomorrow

A fitness coach from Level Gym conducting a one-to-one training session. From tomorrow, mask-on activities can be conducted in groups of no more than two people, in classes of up to 30. PHOTO: LEVEL SINGAPORE
A fitness coach from Level Gym conducting a one-to-one training session. From tomorrow, mask-on activities can be conducted in groups of no more than two people, in classes of up to 30. PHOTO: LEVEL SINGAPORE

Strenuous indoor sports and exercise activities and classes that require participants to take their masks off will cease from tomorrow, following a tightening of restrictions announced yesterday by the multi-ministry task force tackling Covid-19.

The tightened measures mark a return to phase two (heightened alert) and will last till Aug 18.

This follows the surge in coronavirus cases in the community in recent days after the discovery of clusters linked to Jurong Fishery Port and a number of KTV lounges or nightclubs that had pivoted to operate as food and beverage establishments.

Mask-off activities will be allowed outdoors, but class sizes are limited to just two people.

Mask-on activities - whether indoor or outdoor - may proceed in classes of up to 30 people in groups of up to two people, subject to the venue's capacity limit and safe distancing requirements.

Sports events that allow spectators, such as football's Singapore Premier League, will see crowd sizes limited to 100, down from 250 - if pre-event testing (PET) is implemented. PET is not required for events with 50 or fewer people.

Further details will be released by Sport Singapore.

While most gym owners had expected a tightening of restrictions, they were still disappointed by the latest measures.

Ms Joyce Lee, managing director of Fitness Champs Swim School, said: "I'm very disappointed, but things are getting out of hand and the measures are necessary to curb the outbreak."

The school is likely to revert to one-to-one coaching and Ms Lee does not expect the take-up rate to be high, given the increase in fees and parents being more concerned about the spread of Covid-19.

Ms Alicia Teng, 23, co-director of Division Athletics, is taking the news in her stride despite her business being barely three weeks old. She and her two partners are considering holding indoor and outdoor mask-on classes at their Shenton Way location or launching online packages for clients.

She said: "We had pretty good momentum for the past four weeks, so to have to stop now is a bit of a pity because our classes have been filling up quite well.

"But we can only move forward, and hopefully, we'll still be able to give our members a good experience."

Gymgoer Michelle Yee attends classes at F45 Holland Village and works out at Fitness First gyms regularly. The account manager said the changes in safety measures were "very mentally draining".

A brief relaxation of measures from July 12 saw indoor, mask-off sports and exercise activities at gyms and fitness studios take place in groups of five for just a week.

Last week, the task force announced that group sizes for high-intensity activities in indoor, mask-off settings had been reduced to two in a class of no more than 30, including the instructor, without the need for testing or vaccination from Monday.

Activities in groups of five had been allowed to continue if all individuals in the class were fully vaccinated, or had recovered from Covid-19, or had a valid negative Covid-19 test result covering the duration of the class.

Ms Yee said: "It takes time for us to build up our fitness, then when they (the authorities) implement closures of gyms, it's very disruptive because your training will have to come to a stop in some ways.

"It's happened a few times already and it's a bit frustrating also. But I understand the Government needs to play it safe because you can't deny there's a risk of exposure in gyms."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 21, 2021, with the headline 'No mask-off indoor sports and exercise activities from tomorrow'. Subscribe