Is Virgin Active wrong for ditching mask rule? Nah, it's part of the regulations

03 September 2020 - 08:59 By Unathi Nkanjeni
Masks no longer compulsory when members are undertaking 'vigorous' activity.
Masks no longer compulsory when members are undertaking 'vigorous' activity.
Image: File / Sunday Times

Virgin Active SA has caused a buzz with its statement regarding wearing a face mask in their gyms.

According to the health club chain, a mask is no longer compulsory when doing “vigorous” activity.

“Government has released new regulations covering the use of masks in the club. The use of masks is no longer compulsory when members are undertaking a vigorous activity, provided that they maintain a 2m distance from other people,” read the post.

“A mask must be worn at all other times in the club, including on entry and exit. Our teams will still be masked up and we encourage members to use masks responsibly and with consideration for other members.”

Government has released new regulations covering the use of masks in the club. The use of masks is no longer...

Posted by Virgin Active SA on Tuesday, September 1, 2020

The statement caused a buzz on social media, but is there any truth to it? Yes, there is.

According to the new government gazette, the regulation states that gym goers don’t have to wear a mask while they do “vigorous” exercise.

However, there is no mention of how many meters one should be away from any other person.

“Vigorous” exercise intensity is defined as about 70% to 85% of a person’s maximum heart rate.

In June, the World Health Organisation (WHO) advised against wearing when exercising, saying it could reduce the ability to breathe comfortably.

“Sweat can make the mask become wet more quickly, which makes it difficult to breathe and promotes the growth of microorganisms. The important preventive measure during exercise is to maintain a physical distance of at least one meter from others,” said the organisation.

On Facebook, one user wrote, “Personally, I feel it's a huge risk and I'm not comfortable having people around me without masks on. I think it's setting is up for a huge spike.”

“If you can't wear a mask while you work out, work out at home or out on the roads,” wrote another.

“What's the point in exhausting yourself by doing a set of heavyweights and then be told to put your mask on right after?” another user asked.

“That is a load of rubbish. How can it be dangerous to walk up to a machine, but once on it you're not a problem. The worst possible time for droplet spreading would be while exhaling vigorously during hard exercise,” said one user.


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