Following the announcement of the first case of coronavirus (COVID-19) in The Bahamas, Bahamians have already started to practice “social distancing”, which is impacting businesses where large groups gather.
Owner of Club One Fitness Center Sofia Whitehead said less than 24 hours after the announcement on Sunday, the number of patrons at her establishment has slowed.
“There’s definitely a smaller amount of people that have come. People are still coming so we’re not closing our doors, because there hasn’t been any indication for that. We will stay open, we would like people to maintain their distance from each other and work out normally. It has been said that sweat does not (transfer) the virus, so it’s not a big deal,” she told Guardian Business.
“We’ve always had a very
hygienic gym, so we’re just keeping that high standard. We’re increasing the amount of spray bottles that people use to clean the machines before and after they work out, in addition to soap and hand sanitizer. So, what we’ve done is we’re mimicking international protocol.”
As COVID-19 spreads rapidly across the United States, that country’s government has urged businesses where groups gather, like gyms, to voluntarily shutter as authorities work toward containing the virus.
It is also discouraging gatherings of more than 10 people.
No such measure has been announced in The Bahamas.
At Better Bodies gym on Shirley Street, co-owner Raymond Tucker said there was also noticeably fewer people in the gym yesterday.
“There was a small, notable, not much to talk about decrease in the number of people that usually attend. I would think beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was the coronavirus and number two because some of the people that attend the gym have kids. The kids are off and some of them don’t have any babysitter,” he said.
“I honestly believe it will have an effect on the business, but people will continue to come to work out because it’s good therapy, it brings you peace of mind and comfort to know that you can get a workout while you deal with the outbreak. I would hope that they continue to come because there is no physical contact that is being done, we have sanitizers, we have wipes, just come prepared to clean as you work out.”
Muller Petit, a personal trainer, said he intends to shift his workouts with clients to put them at ease.
“I’m going to do indoor and outdoor to make sure my clients don’t fall off, because we always look for some type of excuse saying ‘you know I’m going to wait until this blows by’ and two weeks pass by when you could have been doing something,” he said.
“People are generally afraid and they have good reason to be. But I think they also forget that a stronger immune system helps you fight COVID-19 and you get that from exercising. Even though we’re in the gym and it’s kind of an enclosed environment, you’re going to do more good in here than harm.”