The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Monday released the standard operating procedure for the reopening of gymnasiums and yoga centres from August 5 amid the coronavirus crisis. The new guidelines include spacing out equipment, staggering session timings and disinfection of the premises.

The Centre said that yoga institutes and gymnasiums in containment zones will remain closed. People in the high-coronavirus risk groups have been advised to avoid fitness centres.

The health ministry said that people going to gyms must maintain the mandatory six-feet distance and wear protective masks at all times. “However, during yoga exercise or exercising in gymnasiums, as far as possible only a visor may be used,” the health ministry said. “Use of mask (in particular N-95 masks) during exercise may cause difficulty in breathing.” The government also advised people to install the Aarogya Setu application on their phones.

The government also directed gyms to keep proper distance between exercise equipment, disinfect it regularly and utilise outdoor space whenever possible.

The health ministry said that fitness activities must be planned in a way as to avoid crowding. “Enable staggering class session times and allowing minimum of 15-30 minutes between classes to avoid overlap between members arriving and leaving,” the health ministry said. For personal training sessions, the health ministry advised minimum contact between the trainer and clients.

The health ministry said that gym employees living in the containment zones must not go to the premises. Gyms are required to have sanitiser dispensers and thermal screening provisions at the entrance.

The Centre had last week released guidelines for “Unlock 3”, the third phase of lifting of restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Under the new guidelines, night curfews were scrapped and gyms and yoga centres were allowed to open from August 5.

The number of coronavirus cases in India crossed 18 lakh on Monday with 52,972 new infections. The toll rose by 771 to 38,135. Nearly 12 lakh patients in the country have recovered.

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