DTI Issues Protocols for Operation of Fitness Studios, Gyms, and Venues for Non-contact Exercise and Sports
Following the resolution of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) allowing the conduct of group activities in fitness studios, gyms, and venues for non-contact exercise and sports in areas under Alert Level 2, the Philippine Department of Trade Industry issues minimum public health standards and specific protocols to prevent transmission of COVID-19 and ensure safety of employees and clients.
On-site capacity in fitness studios, gyms, and venues for non-contact exercise and sports
As of November 22, 2021, fitness studios, gyms, and venues for non-contact exercise and sports are allowed to operate with full on-site capacity in areas under Alert Level 1. For areas under Alert Level 2, establishments are allowed to operate with 50% on-site capacity if indoor, and 70% if outdoor, provided that all clients and employees wear face masks at all times, and the employees are fully vaccinated. For indoor establishments, clients aged 18 and above must be fully vaccinated, while those below 18 may be accepted, even if unvaccinated.
No group activities are permitted in areas under Alert Levels 3 and 4. However, the establishments may still operate with limited on-site capacity, specifically, at 30% for indoor and 50% for outdoor in areas under Alert Level 3; and 10% for indoor and 30% for outdoor in areas under Alert Level 4. Unlike in areas under Alert Level 2, establishments in areas under Alert Levels 3 and 4 must only accept clients that are fully vaccinated. All employees must be fully vaccinated and all clients and employees must wear face masks at all times.
Fitness studios, gyms, and venues for non-contact exercise and sports, whether indoor or outdoor, are not allowed to operate in areas under Alert Level 5.
Specific protocols for fitness studios and gyms
For the safety of clients, health and safety officers must discourage them from performing high-intensity exercises/activities.
Group exercise activities must be limited to a maximum of one (1) hour per session/class and there must be alloted a minimum of fifteen (15) minutes gap in between sessions/classes for disinfection of premises. Where group exercise activities involve participants prone or seated on the floor (i.e. floor mats not used), the floor should be cleaned and disinfected between each class. The clients must be required to bring their own personal items such as towels, yoga mats, yoga hammocks, etc.
Two (2) meters physical distancing between clients and employees in all areas of the facility must be maintained. Cardio equipment, free weight areas, weight training equipment, and fitness classrooms may be modified or adjusted to maintain the physical distancing requirement. If possible, there must be physical barriers between employees and clients. The establishment may install cleanable transparent shields or other barriers to physically separate them where distancing is not an option (e.g., between pieces of equipment that cannot be moved) and use strip curtains, plastic barriers, or similar materials to create impermeable dividers or partitions.
The establishments shall operate on a by-appointment or reservation basis to adhere to venue capacity requirements.
A health and safety officer who, at all times, will be physically present in the establishment to ensure that the minimum public health standards and government-imposed limitations on venue/seating capacity are strictly followed, must be designated. Any non-compliance with this requirement or to the minimum public health standards shall serve as ground for the temporary closure of the establishment, until such time that their violation is rectified.
The Management must ensure adequate provision of personal protective equipment to all employees, regardless of employment status, which includes cloth or surgical masks, as well as gloves and other appropriate PPE for all personnel tasked to do regular cleaning and disinfection. All furniture, fixtures, and equipment, especially those that are considered high-touch surfaces (e.g. lockers, equipment), must be properly and regularly sanitized.
The Management must also ensure adequate air exchange in enclosed areas by maximizing natural ventilation through opening of windows and installation and regular maintenance of exhaust fans and air filtration devices (e.g. air purifiers) with High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters, among others. There must also be hand hygiene and sanitation facilities and supplies, screening area at the point/s-of-entry, and visual cues or signages showing reminders with respect to physical distancing, cough and sneeze etiquette, proper hand hygiene, and the like. Use of water fountains, except for no-touch bottle refill stations, must be prohibited.
Violations of minimum public health standards and specific protocols shall subject the establishment to corresponding penalties, including the temporary suspension of business operations, as may be necessary and applicable.
For more information, see DTI MC 21-41