Gyms cave in, announce temporary closure of facilities during lockdown
Gyms had stubbornly refused to shut doors, despite ban on gatherings of more than 100 people
As South Africa prepares to go into a 21-day national lockdown this week, three major gyms have finally relented and confirmed the closure of their facilities in line with President Cyril Ramaphosa's announcement.
On Monday evening, Ramaphosa announced government's decision to institute a three-week lockdown from midnight on Thursday to April 16 in an effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus. South Africa has recorded 554 cases so far.
Only essential services personnel will be allowed to work during this period. This includes police, health-care workers and those involved in the supply of goods, including food.
Hours later, Virgin Active, Planet Fitness and Viva Gym all announced the temporary closure of their gyms, after weeks of stubbornly refusing to close their doors despite increasing pressure.
Virgin Active, which has been criticised on social media for ignoring a previous directive banning gatherings of more than 100 people, released a short statement on its Twitter page, confirming the closure of its facilities from March 25.
The company said membership "will be automatically frozen and no debit order will run until we reopen".
Planet Fitness shared a similar message with its members, announcing the closure of its gyms from Thursday.
"In accordance with the announcement made by Ramaphosa, regarding the national lockdown for 21 days, all Planet Fitness clubs will close on March 26 2020.
"All memberships will automatically be put on freeze, and no debit orders will run for the month of April, until we are able to welcome you back into your club. Keep an eye on our social media channels where we will be sharing more information with you soon. Stay motivated and healthy, look after yourself and one another."
Viva Gym made a similar announcement on Facebook, confirming its gyms would be closed with "immediate effect" and memberships frozen until they reopen.
"Our top priority is to ensure the health and safety of our staff and members," director Roddy Williams said.