Bills rack up but gyms stay closed


Tribune Business Reporter


One gym owner has racked up expenses totalling $50,000 that are due in September as he laments his sector not being allowed to reopen on August 31.

Dr Kent Bazard, owner of Empire Fitness, told Tribune Business: “Once again we have been looked over. We never stopped petitioning the government, we just never got any response and that has been the most troubling thing- we are not getting any response and nobody is communicating anything with us, nobody is telling us anything about a financial plan or what’s going to happen as a result of the bills that we’re accumulating.

“It’s not like we are accumulating bills because of poor spending habits, we are accumulating bills because we are not in business and the government has not either said that they would support us during this time, or said that they would cause us to not be charged for any of our bills during this period. We think that is unfair”

Dr Bazard said that expenses vary from gym to gym and his expenses are approaching $50,000 come September. “My accumulated expenses due with this next cycle is going to be around $50,000 and that varies from gym to gym. To be honest, they don’t even really need to deal with that because if they deal directly with our landlords and our utilities and in some cases some persons have either loans or mortgages to pay, if the government made some type of statement about that or dealt with that directly then everybody would be fine,” said Dr Bazard.

Gyms and fitness centres were allowed to reopen on July 1 after being shut down since the end of March due to the need to control the spread of COVID-19. However, they were shut down again by the competent authority on August, 3 when it was learned that COVID-19 cases started rising again in this second wave.

Dr Bazard indicated he is not wanting to go through the process of submitting bills and expenses to the government, hinting at poor delivery on the part of agencies tasked with dispensing aid and relief to citizens. He said: “In the meantime, the people who I owe still want their money. We need some communication from the Ministry of Finance or the Office of the Prime Minister. Nobody is saying anything and that’s a problem, nobody is saying anything about how businesses are going to survive this period.”

Referring to a study done in the United Kingdom, Dr Bazard said it was found that people with obesity and patients that have a poor body mass index (BMI) are more prone to succumbing to COVID-19. “If any industry that should be in the first wave of opening it should be health and fitness centres,” said Dr Bazard.

Sofia Whitehead, owner of Club One Fitness, said: “We do not know anything, so that’s all I have to say about it. There has been no direct conversations with the government and there has been no direct references from the government in any of their press conferences or press releases.”

Ms Whitehead said gym owners have an association that is not yet formalised and was created to respond in unison to the effect of COVID-19. “The person who is the initiator of our industry association, Dr Kent Bazard, we collectively wrote a letter asking for some answers but that is about as far as we have gotten,” she said.

Ms Whitehead said that while they would like to be reopened now and that their industry standards on sanitisation are second to none, she understands the need to control the virus and said if government would give gym owners some indication as to when they would allow them to reopen or some “timeline” to when it will be, whether it is in another week or another month, then people “can plan around that and find something else to do. But this situation of uncertainty and not knowing is not helping us in any way, shape or form”.


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