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Gym fee rules eased for users unable to work out during lockdown period

FITNESS CENTERS have been required to allow paid-up members who were not able to use their facilities during the lockdown to return without making further payments, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said.

In memorandum circular 20-59 published Tuesday, the DTI also encouraged the industry to extend membership periods or waive fees and penalties incurred during the time their facilities were not allowed to operate.

Membership fees that were paid in advance may be applied to the months after operations resumed, it said.

In the case of chain organizations, franchisors were also encouraged to waive royalty fees and penalties owed by the fitness centers when they were not operating.

The department said that it had been receiving requests to intervene on the matter of royalties and membership fees owed during the non-operating period.

The DTI said that while it recognizes contractual rights, its policy is focused on consumer welfare and encouraging the development of entrepreneurship, especially for small businesses.

Gyms, internet cafes, and test centers were allowed to increase their operating capacity to 75% since the start of November, after lockdown rules were eased for Metro Manila to a status known as general community quarantine (GCQ). The establishments were allowed to operate at full capacity in areas deemed safer and under modified GCQ.

Group workout sessions such as Zumba and yoga classes remain banned. Customers may only remove their masks once they start their individual workouts, during which they will also be required to stay two meters apart.

Gyms were initially allowed to reopen in GCQ areas on Aug. 1, then were temporarily shut during a two-week move to a stricter form of lockdown in areas that included Metro Manila on Aug. 4. — Jenina P. Ibañez

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