Phnom Penh: Let Gyms Open
Phnom Penh: Let Gyms Open
Gyms have been closed since 25 February 2021, over 4 months, 146 days in total. During this time there have been various stages of lockdowns, closures of local markets, gyms, nightclubs and an aggressive vaccination campaign. Cases continue to rise nationally, and there is still very real danger, but all current evidence shows that risk to vaccinated people is extremely low. The adult population of Phnom Penh is now of the most vaccinated cities in the world at 99.22% of those over 18 have received 2 vaccine shots.
As of July 8 2021:
“A total of 2,128,791 people have been inoculated, or 99.22% of the adult population (in Phnom Penh).”
- OR Vandine, Cambodia Ministry of Health Spokesperson
“We can say that we’ve gotten successful in providing vaccines to the people in Phnom Penh because none of the vaccine recipients have suffered serious side effects.”
- KHUONG Sreng, Phnom Penh Municipal Governor
“99.5 percent of deaths from COVID-19 in these states have occurred in unvaccinated people. “
- US White House Press Briefing, 1 July 2021
For Phnom Penh (not unvaccinated areas)- it is time to allow gyms to open that are willing to follow basic protocols.
There is still much work to be done to combat COVID in Cambodia, but the efforts in Phnom Penh, and medical evidence show that the vaccines work. Gyms and fitness facilities are important to both physical and mental health, but they will not be able to survive much longer. Many gyms in Phnom Penh are open-air and much lower risk than other businesses allowed to be open (restaurants, bars, poorly ventilated local markets, etc.).
We have full confidence that with the following protocols, we virtually eliminate all risk in our businesses by complying with the following rules:
1. Fully Vaccinated Members & Staff
Businesses may only allow those who are fully vaccinated (2 weeks after the second dose) to come into facilities. The same requirement would be made for all gym staff. We recommend that a photosystem be available and posted (digital or printed) for inspection if needed to assure compliance. This has the additional benefit of encouraging some people to get vaccinated who may be hesitant.
2. 1.5 Meter Social Distancing
Arrange equipment and provide guidance and enforcement for all members to keep 1.5 meters distance between each other when exercising. This may include providing floor markings or spacing equipment. Our gym specifically has space for 2 classes and we are proposing reducing class sizes to 10 and 10, allowing 4 square meters per person, more than CDC and WHO guidelines.
3. Sanitation Protocol
“Wipe Down Every Time” – All gyms to have a wipe down and sanitation policy posted and enforced requiring wipe down of all equipment immediately after use with sanitizer and cleaning tools. This could be done by staff or required by gym members at the choice of the facility, but the business would be required to enforce the policy.
4. Natural Ventilation
Natural ventilation has been shown to be key to reducing the spread of COVID19. Enclosed areas with recycled air increase the possibility of transmission. All gyms should be required to open doors and windows to help with natural ventilation. This may cause increased electrical usage for facilities with air conditioning, but this would be a temporary measure and it better than not being able to open at all. Many local facilities are open-air and as a result, already lower risk.
5. Posting of Requirements
The government should provide posters with the final requirements in Khmer, Chinese and English. This would be required until further restrictions are lifted as the situation improves.
Please, let us reopen with these requirements, otherwise many gyms and fitness facilities simply would not survive. We would not be requesting if the evidence did not support this proposal. The Cambodian government has worked hard to get people vaccinated, for adults in Phnom Penh, this effort is complete.
Let Gyms Open. It’s time.