After several weeks of lockdown, easing of the lockdown measures is being carried out in phases across Maldives by the Government. After the authorities revealed the planned stages of the first phase, Founder of Total Fitness Group (TfG) Hussain Zinan raised concerns over why jogging was not allowed during the first phase.
Zinan said that he understands not allowing the reopening of gyms and stadiums since that would bring people in close proximity with each other, but he does not understand why jogging and running is not allowed since that is something people can do on their own without getting near anyone else. Zinan further said that since the majority of essentials are being delivered to doorsteps now, for many people there was no reason to go out unless it’s for a run.
The first phase of the easing of lockdown measures does not allow the reopening of gyms and stadiums either. This was a major issue for many health experts, athletes, gym goers and fitness centre owners. Several of them have spoken out about the implications such a restriction will have on people’s health.
National Badminton player Zayan Zaki expressed his concern on whether the authorities are underestimating the importance of being physically active, especially to age groups who are more vulnerable to diseases and existing health conditions. Former MP Hamid Abdul Ghafoor, who also has a background in sports, noted the importance of having a contact point gym owner within the COVID-19 mitigation administration. As gyms and fitness centres are an important part of the economy, gym owners highlighted the usefulness of dialogue during the time for timely decision making.
According to research, sharing indoor space is a major risk of spreading COVID-19, as all identified outbreaks of three or more cases in China (excluding Hubei province) from 4th January to 11th February occurred in an indoor environment. The research depicted the risk of indoor transmission as being higher than outdoor, hence several Maldivians highlighted the risk of allowing shopping permits during the first phase.
Mariam Waheeda who was the first woman in Maldives to complete a marathon at the age of 67, noted that a one-hour run by herself is a lot safer than visiting a local market, and stated that even though she is not an expert, she thinks that allowing jogging w@ill be harmless.
That there is a higher risk of transmission in a confined shop with several others than while running alone in an open space is one of the sentiments most commonly shared on social media about the issue.
Health experts have stressed on the importance of people being allowed to do at least simple activities to stay healthy during COVID-19.