SUBIC BAY FREEPORT — A popular gym and fitness center here was temporarily closed down by the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) early this week for violation of health protocols against the spread of the new coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
SBMA Deputy Administrator for Health and Safety Ronnie Yambao said the Victory Gym and Athletic Club was ordered to stop operations for two weeks as penalty for a first offense after a series of verified complaints showed gym customers not wearing face masks and not observing social distancing during workouts.
Under SBMA Board Resolution No. 20-11-1843, which imposed fines and penalties for violation of health protocols and standards against the spread of Covid-19, the agency would penalize business locators that neglect to implement measures on workplace prevention and control of Covid-19.
The penalty for first offense was temporary closure for two weeks. The second offense merited suspension of the Certificate of Registration and Tax Exemption (CRTE) for six months, while the third merited cancellation of CRTE.
The SBMA Board has also set fines for anyone caught not properly wearing a face mask in public places or violating maximum public health standards: P1,000 for first offense; P2,000 for second offense; and P5,000 for succeeding violations.
The same penalties applied to non-wearing of face shield in designated areas.
Victory Gym, which is located at the Subic Commercial and Light Industrial Park near Manila Avenue, is popular among local residents for its state-of-the-art facilities for weight training, as well as ancillary programs like Zumba and boxing.
However, Yambao said the SBMA has received information that some Victory Gym clients broke rules on wearing of face masks and face shields. Initially, the gym management reasoned out that their customers only removed face masks during picture-taking, but more anonymous reports sent to SBMA showed gym clients flouting the rules.
On March 18, the SBMA issued a show cause letter ordering the company to explain why it should not be penalized for the reported violations. Victory Gym responded on March 22, but the SBMA Public Health and Safety Department recommended on March 26 that it should be cited for first offense after an investigation and review of documents proved the company violated health protocols.
The SBMA served the order for temporary closure of the gym on April 5, and warned that another violation would result in the suspension of its CRTE.
Yambao said the gym management informed the SBMA that they will resume operations on April 22 upon compliance with the closure order and implementation of corrective measures.
Meanwhile, the SBMA also suspended face-to-face trainings and workshops among its departments to help prevent the spread of Covid-19 in the workplace and in the community, especially with the recent emergence of more contagious virus strains.
A memo issued on Tuesday urged SBMA personnel to use Google Hangouts Meet, Zoom, Webex, or other online platforms for trainings and workshops instead of face-to-face interaction.