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Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Unlock 3.0: The idea behind new guidelines in gymnasiums, yoga institutes

Individuals are expected to maintain a minimum distance of 6 feet as far as feasible and should wear face covers or masks at all times on the premises.

By: Explained Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: August 5, 2020 9:49:38 am
gyms in lockdown, COVID-19 pandemic, express explained, lockdown fitness, working out amid pandemic, contain COVID-19 in gymnasiums and yoga institutes, yoga institutes to reopen, explained news, indian express A health worker sanitises equipment at a gym in New Delhi on August 4, 2020. (Express Photo: Praveen Khanna)

As per the Unlock-3 guidelines, the Ministry of Home Affairs has removed restrictions on the movement of individuals during the night and has allowed yoga institutions and gymnasiums to open from August 5. On August 3, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare released its guidelines to contain the spread of COVID-19 in gymnasiums and yoga institutes.

What are the generic preventive measures?

While yoga institutes and gymnasiums have been allowed, they will remain closed in containment zones. The generic preventive measures will be applicable here too. So, persons above 65 years of age, persons with co-morbidities, pregnant women and children below the age of 10 years are advised not to use gyms in closed spaces. Yoga institutes and gymnasiums are expected to advise members accordingly.

For those using these facilities or working in them, a new set of guidelines have been released.

Individuals are expected to maintain a minimum distance of 6 feet as far as feasible and should wear face covers or masks at all times on the premises. They can switch to just using a visor during yoga exercise or exercising in gyms as the mask is known to cause difficulty in breathing. They will have to practice frequent hand washing with soap for at least 40-60 seconds or rub their hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitisers for at least 20 seconds whenever possible.

Respiratory etiquettes are to be strictly followed and covering one’s mouth and nose while coughing/sneezing with a tissue/handkerchief/flexed elbow and disposing off used tissues properly will be mandatory.

Spitting will be strictly prohibited.

Everyone is expected to self-monitor their health and report any illness at the earliest.

Installation & use of Aarogya Setu App shall be advised to all.

What are the guidelines behind layout of gymns?

Spacing: It is recommended that before reopening the facilities are redesigned and equipment placed to ensure 4m2 space per person. Equipments, including cardio and strength machines, will have to be 6 feet apart. In places where possible, it is advised to move the equipment outdoors.

Entry and exit: Specific pathways are recommended for entering and exiting exercise areas. There should be queue management, inside and outside the premises, with specific markings on the floor with a gap of 6 feet. Card based and contactless payments should be preferred. The management should make sure that only asymptomatic people are allowed entry and that there is mandatory hand hygiene and thermal screening performed before entry. Only persons with face covering or masks should be allowed entry.

What about ventilation and air-conditioning?

The guidelines of Central Public Works Department (CPWD) should be followed, which emphasises 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.

CPWD’s advisory issued in April quotes a study that found the transmission of Covid-19 in 100 cities in China lower in high temperature and high humidity. It also quotes a study which has shown that the SARS-CoV-2 can live for 14 days on a surface at 4 degrees Celsius, one day at 37 degrees Celsius and will die in 30 minutes at 56 degrees Celsius. In a dry environment, or when there is low humidity, it is easier for foreign particles to invade the body. Therefore, relative humidity of at least 40 per cent is considered the threshold.

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Which areas need to be disinfected?

Entrances to the premises, building, rooms, all open areas used by staff and visitors, washrooms and toilets, shoe baths (members are encouraged to carry separate workout shoes), all other frequently touched surfaces (doorknobs, handles etc.) and equipment in gymnasiums need to be disinfected. Before closing such establishments, shower rooms and lockers/changing areas should be properly sanitised and washrooms should be “deep cleaned”. Before closure, the entire premises should be disinfected.

How should activities be scheduled and planned?

The Ministry of Ayush has issued separate guidelines for yoga practitioners. The MoHFW meanwhile has urged staggered class session times and to allow 15-30 minutes between classes to avoid overlap between members arriving and leaving. The guidelines also state that for groups, online fitness classes should be offered and during personal training sessions, a minimum distance of six feet should be maintained between the client and the trainers.

What are some considerations for employees?

For employees, shifts and attendance to be planned to ensure social distancing and staff residing in containment zones will not attend the facility till the containment zone is de-notified. Further, the housekeeping staff should be informed and trained about norms to be followed for waste management and disposal.

All employees who are at higher risk i.e. older employees, pregnant employees and employees who have underlying medical conditions should take extra precautions. They should preferably not be exposed to any front-line work requiring direct contact with the clients.

Employers must also ensure that appropriate personal protection gears like face covers/masks, visors, hand sanitisers etc. are available to the members, visitors and staff. The management should ensure that an adequate supply of disinfectant wipes or disinfecting solutions and disposable paper towels for members/staff to wipe exercise equipment clean before and after use is available. Employers should also ensure the availability of pulse oximeters to record oxygen saturation of members prior to the exercise.

What should you do before exercising in the gymnasiums and using equipment for cardio, strength training?

Firstly, you should ensure that the equipment has been disinfected, particularly the frequently touched surfaces before each use. One should sanitise their middle finger with an alcohol swab and check oxygen saturation using a pulse oximeter. Those having oxygen saturation below 95% should not be allowed to exercise.

Should you wear a mask while exercising inside gymnasiums?

Masks can be removed while exercising and visors can be worn instead when possible. The consensus among experts is that high-intensity exercises such as jogging and running should be performed with extreme caution when the individual is wearing a mask since any sort of face-covering adds resistance to breathing.

What are the considerations while practicing yoga?

Ideally, common exercise mats should be avoided and members should preferably bring their own exercise mats which they may take back with them. Further, in view of a potential threat of the spread of infection, as far as feasible, recorded music/songs may be played and shouting/ laughter yoga exercise should not be allowed. The guidelines mention that an individual should stop exercising if they have difficulty in breathing.

What should you do after exercising?

Firstly, ensure that you dispose of your face covers/masks or used towels in covered bins. The management should also make sure that shower areas and washrooms are sanitized before and after use and social distancing norms are followed in cafeteria facilities (if any) in such premises.

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What happens if there is a suspected COVID-19 case on the premises?

In case there is a suspected COVID-19 case on the premises, they should be placed in a room or area where they are isolated from others. A mask should be provided to such a person till such time he/she is examined by a doctor and the nearest medical facility (hospital/clinic) should be informed immediately. If the person is found positive, the complete disinfection of the premises should be taken up.

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