Fitness clubs and centers should be part of essential sectors that are allowed to operate under Alert Level 4, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez said.

During the Palace briefing Monday, Lopez said the gym operators have appealed to the government to consider their sector as part of essential business activity.

“From our end as well as other agencies, we see the rationale and the justification that gyms can help in boosting the immunity through exercise, especially as we are in the fight against Covid-19,” Lopez said in mixed English and Filipino.

He said the agency is batting for the inclusion of fitness clubs and centers under Alert Level 4 similar to how the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases allowed limited operating capacity for dine-in and personal care services.

If this will be allowed, this will start after the pilot testing of the alert level system in Metro Manila by the end of the month, the trade chief added.

Lopez said reopening should be gradual and safe for gym-goers.

Among the health standards that should be maintained include allowing only 20-percent capacity and strengthening ventilation, as well as promoting outdoor gyms.

He said this move will also help in bringing back jobs for people employed in fitness clubs and centers.

“Bottomline here, it gym is essential and it will boost immunity. And the virus is here to stay so we should manage how to function in a very safe manner and save very small businesses and jobs,” he added.