New Delhi: The Ministry of Health & Family Welfare on Monday (August 3, 2020) issued guidelines on preventive measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 in yoga institutes and gymnasiums, that are scheduled to open from August 5.
The guidelines aim to minimize all possible physical contacts between staff, members and visitors. It has also been set up keeping in mind the social distancing and other preventive and safety measures in the context of COVID-19.
Generic preventive measures:
- All yoga institutes and gymnasiums in COVID-19 containment zones shall remain closed for public. Only those outside containment zones will be allowed to open up.
- All yoga institutes and gymnasiums shall comply with all health-related guideline/SOP/notification issued by the Union/State Government from time to time.
- Persons above 65 years of age, persons with co-morbidities, pregnant women and children below the age of 10 years are advised not to use gyms in closed spaces. Organizations managing the yoga institutes and gymnasiums shall advise all members, visitors & staff accordingly.
The generic preventive measures include simple public health measures that are to be followed to reduce the risk of COVID-19. These measures need to be observed by all (members, visitors & staff) in these places at all times.
i. Individuals must maintain a minimum distance of 6 feet as far as feasible.
ii. Use of face covers/masks is mandatory at all times within the premises. However, during yoga exercise or exercising in gymnasiums, as far as possible only a visor may be used. Use of mask (in particular N-95 masks) during exercise may cause difficulty in breathing.
iii. Practice frequent hand washing with soap (for at least 40-60 seconds) even when hands are not visibly dirty. Use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers (for at least 20 seconds) can be practiced wherever feasible.
iv. Respiratory etiquettes to be strictly followed. This involves the strict practise of covering one’s mouth and nose while coughing/sneezing with a tissue/handkerchief/flexed elbow and disposing off used tissues properly.
v. Self-monitoring of health by all and reporting any illness at the earliest to state and district helpline.
vi. Spitting should be strictly prohibited.
vii. Installation & use of Aarogya Setu App shall be advised to all.
Specific measures to be followed include - Before opening the yoga institutes/gymnasiums:
Processes & premises redesigning including proper placement of equipments:
i. Plan a yoga/gymnasiums floor area based on 4m2 per person.
ii. Place equipments, including cardio and strength machines, 6 feet apart, wherever feasible, by moving equipment to facilitate social distancing
iii. Where available, utilize any outdoor space by relocating equipment outside.
iv. Create specific pathways for entering and exiting exercise areas within closed spaces using a floor or wall markings
v. Ensure queue management, inside and outside the premises, with specific markings on the floor with a gap of 6 feet.
vi. Promote card-based/contactless payment.
vii. For air-conditioning/ventilation, the guidelines of CPWD shall be followed which emphasizes that the temperature setting of all air conditioning devices should be in the range of 24-30 degree Celsius, relative humidity should be in the range of 40- 70%, intake of fresh air should be as much as possible and cross ventilation should be adequate.
viii. Limit the number of staff and members within the general gymnasium floor, specific workout areas and change rooms by:
- Restricting the number of members allowed in specified areas
- Implementing ‘fitness sessions’ for particular exercise areas with requirements for members to register (ideally online) for specific sessions
ix. Lockers will remain in use, as long as social distancing is maintained.
x. Ensure dustbins and trash cans are covered at all times
xi. Spas, Sauna, Steam Bath and Swimming Pool (wherever applicable) shall remain closed.
Disinfection: All areas within the premises shall be disinfected using clinically approved disinfectants. The areas to be disinfected include but are not limited to –
i. Entrances to the premise, building, rooms
ii. All open areas used by staff and visitors
iii. Washrooms and toilets
iv. Shoe baths (Members will be encouraged to carry separate workout shoes)
v. All other frequently touched surfaces (doorknobs, handles etc.)
vi. Equipment in gymnasiums
Planning and Scheduling of Activities:
i. Calculate the maximum capacity per session based on redesigned spaces. Accordingly, schedule the session and inform the members.
ii. Yogic Kriya(s)
- The practice of Yogic Kriya(s) may be avoided for the time being. Even if it is to be practiced essentially, it may be done in open spaces
- Guidelines for practitioners (Yoga guideline for Covid-19) issued by the Ministry of Ayush (available at https://www.ayush.gov.in/) may also be followed
Group fitness rooms and classes:
- Staggering class session times and allowing a minimum of 15-30 minutes between classes to avoid overlap between members arriving and leaving
- Offering group fitness classes online, wherever possible
- Restricting the number of persons allowed per group fitness class based on the size of the room and the nature of the fitness activity
Personal training in yoga institutes/gymnasiums:
- Ensure 6 feet distance between personal trainer and clients during personal training sessions, wherever feasible.
- Ensure sessions are tailored to include only exercises that do not require physical contact between the trainer and the clients including setup and use of equipment
- Limit the number of clients per session & ensure adequate spacing amongst all clients.
- Utilize outdoor spaces at the yoga institutes/gymnasiums where available
- Shifts and attendance to be planned to ensure social distancing
- Staff residing in the containment zone shall not attend the facility till containment zone is de-notified
- Housekeeping staff to be informed & trained about norms for waste management & disposal
- All employees who are at higher risk i.e. older employees, pregnant employees and employees who have underlying medical conditions to take extra precautions. They should preferably not be exposed to any front-line work requiring direct contact with the clients
Availability and Management of Supplies:
i. Appropriate personal protection gears like face covers/masks, visors, hand sanitizers etc. shall be made available by management to the members, visitors & staff
ii. Provide an adequate supply of disinfectant wipes or disinfecting solutions and disposable paper towels for members/staff to wipe exercise equipment clean before and after use.
iii. Ensure availability of pulse oximeters to record oxygen saturation of members prior to the exercise.
After opening the yoga institutes/gymnasiums:
At the entry point:
i. Entrance to have mandatory hand hygiene (sanitizer dispenser) and thermal screening provisions.
ii. Only asymptomatic persons (including staff) be allowed in the premises.
iii. All persons to be allowed entry only if using face cover/masks.
iv. All members, visitors and staff may consider using Aarogya Setu application for risk identification at all times inside the yoga institute/gymnasiums
v. Posters/standees on preventive measures about COVID-19 to be displayed prominently. Audio and Video clips to spread awareness on preventive measures for COVID-19 may be regularly played.
vi. Ensure a minimum distance of 6 feet at all times in queues
vii. Proper crowd management in the parking lots, in corridors and in elevators – duly following social distancing norms shall be organized.
viii. Staggering of members/ visitors to be done, with separate timing slots, to allow for adequate physical distancing and disinfection of premises & equipment.
ix. In yoga institutes, shoes/footwear are to be preferably taken off outside the premises where yoga exercises are done. If needed they should be kept in separate slots for each individual/family by the persons themselves.
x. Details of check-in and checkout times of members and visitors must be recorded (name, address and phone number)
Prior to exercising in the gymnasiums using equipment for cardio, strength training etc.
i. Ensure that the equipment has been disinfected, particularly the frequently touched surfaces before each use
ii. Sanitize middle finger with an alcohol swab and check oxygen saturation using a pulse oximeter. Those having oxygen saturation below 95% should not be allowed to exercise. Call central / state helpline/ambulance and refer such persons to the nearest health facility.
iii. Remove mask and wear visor as far as feasible while exercising.
iv. Hand sanitizer stations must be provided near each gymnasium equipment
v. Ensure that members sanitize their hands before using gymnasium equipment
During yoga exercises/other exercise sessions:
i. Common exercise mats should be avoided and members should preferably bring their own exercise mats which they may take back with them.
ii. In view of the potential threat of the spread of infection, as far as feasible recorded music/songs may be played and shouting/ laughter yoga exercise should not be allowed.
iii. Stop the exercise if you feel difficulty in breathing. Check the oxygen saturation level. Those having oxygen saturation below 95% should not be allowed to continue the exercise. Call central / state helpline/ambulance and refer such persons to the nearest health facility.
After exercise and in common areas:
i. Ensure proper disposal of face covers/masks / used towels in covered bins.
ii. The shower areas/washrooms should be sanitized before and after use.
iii. Cafeteria facility, if any within the premises, shall follow social distancing norms at all times.
iv. Cleaning and disinfection of gymnasium equipment, particularly frequently touched surfaces (handrails, benches, fixtures, etc.) shall be done after each exercise session before it is used by the next member.
v. The floor cleaning shall be taken up between exercise sessions.
At the time of closure:
i. Shower rooms and lockers/changing areas need to be properly sanitized.
ii. Deep cleaning of all washrooms shall be ensured
iii. Before closure, the entire premises will be disinfected
5. Additional precautions to be followed in case of a suspect case in the premises:
i. Place the ill person in a room or area where they are isolated from others.
ii. Provide a mask/face cover till such time he/she is examined by a doctor.
iii. Immediately inform the nearest medical facility (hospital/clinic) or call the state or district helpline.
iv. A risk assessment will be undertaken by the designated public health authority (district Rapid Response Team /treating physician) and accordingly further action be initiated regarding the management of the case, his/her contacts and need for disinfection.
v. Disinfection of the premises to be taken up if the person is found positive.