KAMPALA – The Gyms, Fitness and Wellness Association of Uganda has sought the intervention of Parliament in the re-opening of gyms and wellness centres in the country.
According to the association’s senior adviser, Eddie Okila, the continued closure of gym centres for the last seven months owing to the national lockdown due to coronavirus has affected the livelihoods and health of many Ugandans.
“The health benefits of these fitness centres and spas in Uganda where the burden of non-communicable diseases is increasing, needs not to be emphasised. Their continued closure could lead to further deterioration of people’s mental and physical wellbeing,” said Okila during a meeting with the Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, on November 4, 2020.
He added that according to a risk matrix on Covid-19, gyms and wellness centres proved to be safer than other areas that had been re-opened like arcades, markets and taxi parks.
Okila told Speaker Rebecca Kadaga that the Association had developed general standard operating procedures (SOPs) for gymnasiums and indoor facility based physical activity, as well as trained persons to execute the SOPs.
“We request your indulgence with the National Taskforce on Covid-19 so that we can be a part of it and advise them on how to utilise physical; activity to combat Covid-19,” Okila told the Speaker.
He noted that many gymnasium related businesses had been given notices of vacation due to failure to pay rent dues, yet they had not been operating since the national lockdown was instituted.
Kadaga expressed concern over the long period it has taken to re-open the gyms and wellness centres among others, which had greatly affected the private sector at large.
She told the team that her efforts to lobby for re-opening some sectors of the economy from the Covid-19 lockdown like boda bodas were successful.
“I will inform Parliament next Tuesday [10 November 2020] about your concerns. I will also inform the Prime Minister who is the head of the National Taskforce on Covid-19, and I will inform the President about it,” said Kadaga.
She told the team to expect a response on the matter before the end of November.
Okila was accompanied by other sector players including Geraldine Opoka, Robert Ssebugwawo and Fazal Karim.
On 25 June 2020, members of the Club, Restaurants and Entertainment Owners Association of Uganda petitioned Parliament to intervene in their continued closure by government. Government has since then allowed restaurants to operate.