Fresh Covid curbs in Delhi a 'death warrant' for fitness industry, will hurt shopkeepers: Traders

With the authorities imposing fresh COVID-19 restrictions in Delhi on Tuesday, traders said it will be a "death warrant" for the fitness industry and make a "big dent" in their businesses

Representative photo
Representative photo


With the authorities imposing fresh COVID-19 restrictions in Delhi on Tuesday, traders said it will be a "death warrant" for the fitness industry and make a "big dent" in their businesses.

They also requested the authorities to reconsider the decision to impose restrictions.

The Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) on Tuesday ordered the closure of schools, colleges, cinemas and gyms with immediate effect and put various restrictions on the functioning of shops and public transport as a yellow alert was sounded under the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP).

The 'yellow' alert restrictions stipulate that shops and establishments of non-essential goods and services and malls will open based on odd-even formula from 10 AM to 8 PM.

Owners of gyms and spas across the city said that the move will prove to be a "death warrant" for the fitness industry which has been grappling for survival ever since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

Representatives of gyms and market associations said the government could have also considered two other indicators as well -- the number of fresh coronavirus cases and that of the oxygen beds occupied -- before announcing a "yellow" alert.

The Delhi Gym Association, an umbrella body of gyms and fitness centres in the city, condemned the DDMA decision to close gyms under the yellow alert of the GRAP.

"This decision will completely destroy the Delhi fitness industry. All the gym owners were already under the burden of debt due to rent, fixed electrical charges, fixed water charges, etc. but now with this decision we are left with no option but to go bankrupt. This decision has come as a death warrant for gym owners," Chirag Sethi, Vice President, Delhi Gym Association, said.

He said that gyms and spas are always the first entity to get closed and always the last to reopen.

The association urged the DDMA to reconsider its decision.

"The gym owners have already suffered a lot due to previous lockdowns. Gym owners are on the verge of going bankrupt.... With absolutely no support from the government, the industry will die. We request the DDMA to reconsider the decision, Sethi said.

There are around 5,500 gymnasiums and fitness centres across the national capital.

Nishant Kharbanda, owner of Annandam spa in GK-2, expressed similar concerns and said that a complete shutdown of spas doesn't make sense when saloons are open and markets can function on odd-even basis.

"Saloons and parlours are open but spas will be shut, which is very ironical. We are yet to recover from the losses and now this move will further hit the industry hard. The government should have allowed spas to function on odd-even basis akin to markets, Kharbanda said.

Market associations across the city also said that the authorities should have considered the number of fresh cases and that of the oxygen beds occupied as well before announcing a "yellow" alert.

Sadar Bazar Market Association president Devraj Baweja said that traders were yet to recover from the impact of the lockdown during the second wave of COVID-19 earlier this year.

Baweja said the fresh restrictions will affect traders hard as the number of business days will be reduced in odd-even arrangement. Earlier if a shop used to open six days a week, now that will function only for three days.

"Why always shopkeepers are punished when the actual crowd is due to the illegal vendors and lack of proper enforcement. How will the government ensure odd-even operation of stalls of roadside vendors or illegal vendors in any market of the city? Baweja asked.

Kamla Nagar Market Association president Nitin Gupta said it is the trader who is punished even for the laxity of authorities.

"Odd-even arrangement in markets will hurt our businesses. The business is already down and this move will further dissuade customers from coming to markets, Gupta said.

He added that the authorities, be it the government or the corporations, hardly remove encroachments and illegal vendors from the market which are the big reason behind crowding.

Traders Association Lajpat Nagar general secretary Ashwani Marwah said while the move will affect their business, it is a necessary preventive measure.

"With this move less number of customer will come for shopping. But on the other hand it is a necessary preventive measure taken at the right time to arrest the spread of the virus, Marwah said.

He added that other than the administration, the market associations have also deployed volunteers to make people aware about wearing masks.

There is no entry at shops without masks in Lajpat Nagar market, Marwah said.

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