Hundreds of gym owners on January 29 took out a protest march to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s residence in Delhi to oppose the DDMA’s decision to keep fitness centres closed even as the number of COVID-19 cases have come down in the city.
Demanding that gyms and spas be allowed to reopen, and raising slogans against the government, demonstrators started their march from the Chandgi Ram Akhara to Flagstaff Road in the Civil Lines.
They, however, were stopped by police a few metres away from the chief minister’s residence.
Though the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) on Thursday lifted the weekend curfew and also allowed restaurants, bars and cinema halls to operate with 50 per cent capacity, gyms and schools in the city are still shut.
Restrictions had come into force under a ‘yellow alert’ issued by the authority in December last year when the Covid positivity rate had crossed 0.5 per cent in the national capital.
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“We took out the protest march to make the government and the Delhi lieutenant governor (L-G) hear the plight of gym owners and others engaged in this business,” said Chirag Sethi, the president of the Delhi Gym Association (DGA), under which the agitation was organised.
“The fitness industry has already suffered a lot due to the Covid pandemic in the last two years and not allowing our establishments to reopen will prove to be a death warrant for our businesses,” he told PTI.
He said that Covid cases in the city have come down drastically and other business establishments such as multiplexes, restaurants and bars have been allowed to open. Then why are fitness centres not being permitted to function, Sethi asked.
“This is a genuine demand. The government and the DDMA should consider it in its next meeting as soon as possible,” Sethi said.
The DGA on Friday had said that gym owners and its members would be staging a protest near the L-G’s residence, but, according to it, they were not granted permission.
Sethi had earlier said that the DDMA’s decision to keep gyms shut is affecting the livelihood of over 1 lakh people. There are around 5,500 gyms in the city, he had said.
The number of daily cases in Delhi has been on the decline after touching a record high of 28,867 on January 13.
Delhi on Friday reported 4,044 fresh COVID-19 cases and 25 deaths.
The positivity rate, which was 30.6 per cent on January 14, now, according to data released on Friday, stands at 8.6 per cent for the city.