Members of the All Odisha Gym Owners’ Association on Friday went on a hunger strike in Bhubaneswar following denial of permission to resume their operations in the recently announced unlock relaxations by the State government.
Though all non-essential businesses and other commercial units have been permitted to operate in the revised guidelines issued by the State government for the month of July, gyms have been kept out of the order's purview .
As no permission has been granted to the gyms to resume operation, it is directly affecting the lives and livelihood of over 30,000 professional trainers and dieticians across the State, the striking association members said.
“We do not want to violate the government guidelines. But we are not having any other option as we are facing an uncertain future,” said a member of the gym association on the side-lines of their protest at Mastercanteen.
All Odisha Gym Owners Association President, Satyajit Dash said the association had recently written a letter to Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik urging the latter to facilitate the reopening of gyms which are an essential component of health services required to combat Covid-19.
In its letter, the association stated that the owners are facing hardships as gyms have been operational for only six months in the past 15 months.
“We are not included in the MSME for which we are unable to avail certain benefits like loans. As we are not allowed to resume our services, the owners are facing problems in paying salary. The house owners are forcing many of our members to pay rent and even threatening them to vacate premises,” said Dash.
According to Dash, the association had proposed to allow those vaccinated to use gym facilities. Apart from this, the owners are taking full care of sanitation and other measures to protect the lives of their customers.
“Several states have announced financial packages. We had asked government to include us under MSME so that we can avail loans. The Odisha government has provided financial assistance to street vendors and farmers. But unfortunately , the government is yet to fulfil our demands,” said another gym owner.