Govt issues guidelines for reopening of gyms, yoga institutes

New Delhi: Ahead of the reopening of yoga institutes and gymnasiums, the health ministry on Monday issued COVID-19-appropriate protocols to be followed at such facilities like allowing only asymptomatic people, maintaining social distancing, disinfecting equipment and wearing of visor while exercising as far as possible.
All yoga institutes and gymnasiums in containment zones shall remain closed and only those outside such zones will be allowed to open, the ‘Guidelines on Preventive Measures to Contain Spread of COVID-19 in Yoga Institutes & Gymnasiums’ stated.
“Spas, sauna, steam bath and swimming pools (wherever applicable) shall remain closed,” the document said.
The guidelines lay down the processes and premises redesigning, including proper placement of equipment, that need to be followed before reopening such establishments. Yoga institutes and gymnasiums have been asked to plan the floor area based on four metres squared per person.
Persons above 65 years of age, persons with comorbidities, pregnant women and children below the age of 10 years are advised not to use gyms in closed spaces, the guidelines said.
For the first time since the coronavirus lockdown came into force on March 25, the government has allowed opening of yoga institutes and gymnasiums from August 5 as part of the ‘Unlock 3’ phase.
“Yoga and physical activity being important for health & well-being, it has been decided to open yoga institutes and gymnasiums from August 5,” the guidelines said.
The document outlined various generic precautionary measures to be adopted in addition to specific measures to be taken at yoga institutes and gymnasiums to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The guidelines state that at the entry point at all such facilities, it is mandatory to have hand hygiene (sanitiser dispenser) and thermal screening provisions.
“Only asymptomatic persons (including staff) be allowed in the premises. All persons to be allowed entry only if using face cover/masks,” it said.
“All members, visitors and staff may consider using Aarogya Setu application for risk identification at all times inside the yoga institute/ gymnasiums,” the guidelines stated.
It also stated that prior to exercising in gymnasiums using equipment for cardio, strength training, etc. middle finger be sanitised with alcohol swab and oxygen saturation be checked using pulse oximeter. Those having oxygen saturation below 95 per cent should not be allowed to exercise, it said.
Call central/state helpline/ ambulance and refer such persons to the nearest health facility, the document added.
It calls for ensuring minimum distance of six feet at all times in queues and proper crowd management in parking lots, corridors and in elevators — duly following social distancing norms.
“Individuals must maintain a minimum distance of 6 feet as far as feasible. Use of face covers/masks is mandatory at all times within the premises. However, during yoga exercise or exercising in gymnasiums, as far as possible only a visor may be used,” the document said.
“Use of mask (in particular N-95 masks) during exercise may cause difficulty in breathing,” it added.
It suggested staggering of visits of members with separate timing slots to allow for adequate physical distancing and disinfection of premises and equipment.
“Respiratory etiquettes to be strictly followed. This involves strict practice of covering one’s mouth and nose while coughing/sneezing with a tissue/ handkerchief/flexed elbow and disposing of used tissues properly,” they said.
“Installation and used of Aarogya Setu App shall be advised to all,” the document said.
Details of check-in and checkout times of members and visitors must be recorded along with their name, address and phone number, the document said.
It also called for placing of equipment, including cardio and strength machines, six feet apart, wherever feasible, by moving equipment to facilitate social distancing.
“Where available, utilize any outdoor space by relocating equipment outside. Create specific pathways for entering and exiting exercise areas within closed spaces using floor or wall markings,” the guidelines stated.
The document called for promoting card based/contactless payment.
“For air-conditioning/ventilation, the guidelines of CPWD shall be followed which emphasizes that the temperature setting of all air conditioning devices should be in the range of 24-30 degrees Celsius, relative humidity should be in the range of 40- 70%, intake of fresh air should be as much as possible and cross ventilation should be adequate,” the ministry said.
It also said that an ill person should be placed in a room or area where they are isolated from others. “Provide a mask/face cover till such time he/she is examined by a doctor. Immediately inform the nearest medical facility (hospital/clinic) or call the state or district helpline,” the guidelines said.
A risk assessment will be undertaken by the designated public health authority and accordingly further action be initiated regarding management of case, his/her contacts and need for disinfection, they said.
The practice of Yogic Kriya(s) may be avoided for the time being and even if it is to be practised essentially, it may be done in open spaces, the guidelines said.
They also called for staggering class session times and allowing minimum of 15-30 minutes between classes to avoid overlap between members arriving and leaving.

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