translated from Spanish: SME gyms guild asks government to reopen national from phase 2

After a year and four months of pandemic due to the Covid-19 health crisis, the Association of SME Gyms and Physical Activity Professionals, composed of more than 150 professionals and gym owners throughout Chile, announced that next Tuesday, July 6, they will demonstrate outside the offices of the Ministry of Health , in the cities of Santiago, Concepción, Temuco and Valparaíso, among others, to deliver a petition at the national level.
In this document, the guild requests the reopening of gyms nationwide, in all those communes and cities that are from phase 2 of the step-by-step plan, denouncing that so far the decisions of the authority “have strongly affected the field of gyms, physical activity and sport in Chile.”
Mauricio Yáñez, director of the guild, explained that “the government’s decisions have affected more than 2 thousand gyms throughout the country, with hundreds of establishments bankrupt, losing 55% of the jobs linked, and affecting more than 18 thousand workers.” For the same reason, he adds, “after the implementation of the 19 sanitary measures requested by the Ministry of Health, we do not understand why the reopening of thousands of gyms continues to be prohibited, limiting the performance of exercise only outdoors and only offering us subsidies, when what we need is to be able to work, not to continue waiting or in debt.”
“We believe that the new announcements of the Step-by-Step Plan should contemplate the responsible reopening of thousands of SME gyms that have been unable to operate for 16 months. We must get used to living with Covid, and physical activity is essential to improve the mental health of Chileans, which has been so diminished by quarantines,” says Juan Pablo Swett, president of the National Multigremial of Entrepreneurs, who support the reopening of gyms from phase 2.
This request is also supported by parliamentarians, including Deputy Francisco Eguiguren who says that “one of the cruellest consequences that the pandemic has brought has been how SMEs have fallen one by one in a domino effect that is already unsustainable, especially the field of gyms as one of the most affected sectors and where the vast majority are SMEs , for the same reason today it is urgent that the Government open the doors to them to be able to restart their activities”.
The parliamentarian also maintains that “at the international level, the rate of infection in gyms ranges between 0.3% and 0.7%, demonstrating that gyms are not an entity that spreads the Coronavirus and even help us to de-stress the country, where 33% of the population in Chile is suffering from mental health problems, being urgent to open gyms , not only because those who support them can no longer stand and are absolutely collapsed, without receiving any help, but also because of the Chileans who need to play sports and get out of the lockdown that covid-19 means.”
Likewise, Deputy Alejandra Sepúlveda also joined the cause saying that “mental health and obesity are a problem that has been exacerbated with the pandemic. That is why we are asking the Minister of Health to use his power so that they can reopen the gyms in stage 2, especially in regions, with all the necessary protocols, which will undoubtedly be respected by each of the SMEs that today are making a tremendous effort to keep these establishments in good condition while waiting for their reopening”.
One of the main affected of the guild, is its president Humberto Norambuena, double Olympic medalist of Taekwondo (1988-1989), who has been in the need to sell his medals product of the strong crisis for which he is living and that has affected him as an entrepreneur sme of the sports sector.
Norambuena calls not to forget that “at this time of health crisis, the population is suffering from high levels of estŕes, anxiety, overweight and obesity, and physical activity can contribute to reduce the figure of an already collapsed health system. Also, in gyms, people can count not only on professional guidance in the performance of the exercise and a safeguard of the weather conditions, especially now that winter has begun.”
Likewise, the athlete specifies that among the 19 sanitary measures already implemented includes from physical distancing, permanent use of mask, sanitizationn of hands, system of reservation of hours and control of attendance for the use of facilities, suspension of classes, among other measures.
The board of directors of the union assures that it will deliver the petition next Tuesday, July 6, in the offices of the Ministry of Health, after having held a meeting with the chief of staff of the Ministry of Economy, Diego Acuña, who only reportedly referred to the subsidies that the government provides for SMEs. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Sport would not have received them, after multiple attempts.

Original source in Spanish

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