Hong Kong gym linked to COVID-19 cluster
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Hong Kong gym linked to COVID-19 cluster

cluster has been found at Ursus Fitness Centre in Sai Ying Pun
99 people have been affected so far
Hong Kong government has mandated face masks in gyms while not exercising
Cluster linked to nearby offices
Staff and members now banned if they frequent more than one gym
Gyms remain open with new restrictions in place
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HCM is investigating news that a small gym in Hong Kong has become one of only facilities in the world to report involvement in a COVID-19 cluster, with 99 people, including customers, staff and their close contacts having been linked to the outbreak.

Gyms worldwide have been following strict COVID-secure operating procedures since the start of the pandemic, with rigorous official monitoring in the US, Europe, the UK, Australia and New Zealand showing exceptionally low levels of association with COVID-19, due to them operating as regulated environments.

The Hong Kong cluster is associated with office workers from nearby companies and HCM is investigating whether the cluster originated in the office spaces or within the gym itself. We’ve contacted the club – Ursus Fitness Centre in Sai Ying Pun – for comment.

Ursus Fitness Centre has been described as a small, high-intensity gym.

Gyms in Hong Hong reopened a month ago on 18 February and some have been enforcing mask-wearing as a way to control COVID-19. Members are also obliged to use a ‘LeaveHomeSafe’ tracing app each time they enter the gym. 

Fitness classes In Hong Kong have been limited to four people in the studio, including the trainer.

Major operators in Hong Kong are reporting today that they have been operating COVID-free since reopening by following strict protocols.

In response to the outbreak, the government has now made mask-wearing mandatory in gyms (from Thursday 11 March) and on Friday 12 March, authorities ordered all 50,000 fitness industry workers in Hong Kong to undergo mandatory testing within two days – by today (by 14 March 2021).

Everyone must now wear a mask except when they are exercising or showering – a discipline already adopted in many other countries – it’s also mandatory for gym staff to wear a mask at all times.

In common with many countries, the Hong Kong government is also now mandating partitions and the spacing of equipment at 1.5m. 

Some fitness centres in Hong Kong are temporarily banning members and PTs who frequent more than one gym, while others are stocking up on rapid test kits to safeguard customers.

Many closed temporarily for deep cleaning and to get employees screened.

Liz Terry, editor of HCM, said: “While this is concerning news for health club operators, it seems this is an isolated incident where COVID-secure operating procedures have not been followed and the spread may have been exacerbated by transmission in the workplace.

"This clearly does not represent the wider physical activity sector, both in Hong Kong and around the world, which has proven beyond doubt that it can operate in a COVID-secure way.

“As more nations open their gyms, we must be vigilant and learn from the experience of others, to ensure that we rigorously control the behaviour of staff and customers to prevent the industry from becoming associated in any way with the virus.

“We are all in this together as a sector and there must be a high degree of trust that all operators will continue to maintain the most rigorous operating standards, to enable to sector to rebound and continue the great work it does in maintaining and improving people’s health and empowering their vitality as we start the come out of the pandemic.

"We cannot have any operator breaking this trust, as it could have serious consequences for the sector."

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HCM is investigating news that a small gym in Hong Kong has become one of only facilities in the world to report involvement in a COVID-19 cluster, with 99 people, including customers, staff and their close contacts having been linked to the outbreak.
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