BENGALURU: It’s past forward again for swimming coaches. Barely a month after the government allowed pools to open to the public, its back to shutdown with the government ordering the closure of pools on Friday. While gyms too were ordered to shutdown, the order was rolled back on Sunday, allowing them to function with 50 percent occupancy.
It’s a big blow to swim centres with coaches hoping that the rising temperatures would attract people and make up for last year’s losses. Nihar Ameen, head coach at Dolphin Aquatics, says, “It feels like the lockdown is haunting us again. If this is the way things are panning out, it’s all over for us. We cannot take a second blow. I do not have the reserves to pay my staff any longer.”
SR Sindia, vice president of Karnataka Swimming Association, says it is unfair that they are being singled out. “When other sectors are given the leeway to operate, why are swimming pools are selectively targeted? I challenge the government to show a single case traced to a swimming centre. Members are actually calling the association to express their anger for not taking any action to keep pools open. The association is definitely taking a strong opposition against the government’s order. We will protest if we have to,” he says.
Fitness centres had initially called the move to shutdown gyms “illogical” and “senseless” as they were just starting to recover from months of closure. Surendra Kedia founder of Reset, a holistic fitness centre, says, “There is a big misconception that fitness centres increase infection spread. I believe the second wave is far more dangerous. With 50% occupancy, we will tighten the health protocols, sanitise equipment after each use and ensure people maintain physical distancing.”
Even so, president of The Karnataka State Gymnasium and Fitness Owners’ Association, AV Ravi, plans to submit a letter to Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa, requesting a relief package. According to him, close to 3,000 gyms in the state have shut shop due to the pandemic. “We support the government’s call to follow strict protocols in gyms. However, livelihoods of many trainers, and gym staff are being lost,” he says.
Restaurants too have to run with 50 per cent occupancy. Arun Adiga, managing partner, Vidyarthi Bhavan, says, “We reduced seating by half last Thursday. We are encouraging people to opt for takeaways and tele-booking.”