SportSG sets aside $18 million to help gyms and studios, following stricter Covid-19 measures

The additional funds were put aside to help affected businesses defray their operating costs, such as rental, during this period. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

SINGAPORE - Sport Singapore (SportSG) has set aside support of up to $18 million under the Sports Resilience Package (SRP) for eligible businesses and self-employed people (SEP) affected by the latest Covid-19 guidelines.

Under the stricter measures, which were announced last week, only low-intensity physical activities such as yoga and pilates are allowed to take place at public and private gyms and fitness studios from May 8-30.

The additional funds were put aside to help affected businesses defray their operating costs, such as rental, during this period.

In a Facebook post, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong said: "The recent measures to help curb and tamp down infections have been necessary. But they also affected our sports and fitness programme providers. They bore quite a brunt of the measures.

"Costs and overheads will still weigh on many affected businesses and affected professionals' minds. I want to assure our sports operators and professionals that they are valuable partners to us, and Singaporeans in general, and we will continue to work with them to enhance standards and make sports and fitness more accessible."

A Sport and Fitness Operating Grant of $7.7 million has been rolled out to provide additional support for over 500 entities, in particular gyms and fitness studios.

Those eligible for this grant will receive a one-time disbursement, which takes overhead costs such as rental and salaries into account, ranging from $5,000 to $100,000 for the three-week period.

With four of her yoga and barre outlets operating at 50 per cent capacity, Lab Studios co-founder Jasmine Chong was appreciative of the additional support.

The 32-year-old said: "As a business, when the closures were communicated to us, we understood why there was a need to close because we need to keep the community safe.

"Our business model would have to transform to become viable in this new environment and having any kind of support is really appreciative. We are still recovering from last year's lockdown and it seems brighter now."

To help individuals, the grant quantum for the SEP Project Grant, which was first announced at the 2021 Committee of Supply Debate in March, will increase from $2.5 million to $7.5 million.

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While relief measures have been a welcome announcement for gyms and fitness studios islandwide, these businesses are adapting their business model in their battle to stay afloat.

With the raised grant quantum, the SEP Project Grant aims to support about 300 projects - thrice the original number - that help self-employed people collaborate with each other and develop initiatives targeted at enhancing the health and wellness of Singaporeans.

Successful grant applicants, who can work individually or with others, may obtain up to $25,000 in funding per project.

Those who have experienced at least 50 per cent income loss during the three weeks will be eligible for a one-time cash assistance of up to $400 under the Sport and Fitness SEP Support Fund, which $2.8 million has been set aside for.

Fitness instructors can also apply for the Continuing Coach Education (CCE) Training Allowance Grant that allows them to claim $7.50 for every claimable hour for the CCE training, programme or event up to a maximum of $300 per person until March 31 next year.

These include CCE courses facilitated by CoachSG, ExPRO Fitness on-demand online learning content and events, and courses offered under Union Training Assistance Programme as endorsed by the National Instructors and Coaches Association.

Personal trainer and fitness educator Dexter Tay is one who will be signing up for the CCE Training Allowance Grant.

Tay, a founding member of non-profit organisation FitnessSG that represents those in the fitness industry, believes that it is crucial for them to take courses to expand their skillsets.

The 38-year-old said: "It may not immediately be seen as tangible and helpful for us, but I feel that these measures are preparing us to move forward. While we all have to come together to work towards getting out of May 30, it's prudent to be planning ahead.

"If we can take this downtime to upgrade and upskill, we emerge stronger with a bit more knowledge and skills for the new norm."

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