Orders from Queensland Health regarding the operation of gymnasiums in response to the COVID-19 pandemic have put many bodies corporate responsible for gym facilities in apartment complexes at risk of substantial fines.
Archers the Strata Professionals Partner Grant Mifsud said that, while gyms are now allowed to open after the lifting of state government COVID-19 restrictions, operators must comply with directions which are aimed at the professional fitness industry.
These directions treat gyms in strata communities the same as commercial gym operations, according to him.
“Bodies corporate responsible for gyms must comply with the ‘COVID Safe Industry Plan for the Fitness Industry’, so many managers of apartment complexes who open their gyms risk a fine of up to $13,345 if they fail to comply with the plan,” he said.
While some bodies corporate have resources to comply with the directives, others have no choice but to keep their gyms closed or open them at the risk of breaching the directives.
Bodies corporates who have had to close gyms are facing complaints from angry tenants, while some owners are refusing to pay levies because facilities are unavailable.
Under the directives, all gyms must be supervised around-the-clock and a register kept of all users. A maximum of 20 people per designated area is permitted or just one person per seven square metres. All equipment must be cleaned frequently.
“There are risks and difficulties for bodies corporate that are associated with both opening gyms and closing gyms,” Mr Mifsud said.
“Some strata communities are able to comply with the directives by supervising gyms via a video link to the building manager’s office. They also have staff to clean the gym regularly, provide hand sanitiser and alcohol-based wipes for residents and prevent use of communal showers.
“But there are many communities without the resources to implement these measures and if residents use the gym the body corporate could be fined.”
Mr Mifsud urged body corporate committees to ensure owners are aware of the directives, the COVID plan and the potential consequences of any breach.
Similarly, he strongly encouraged committees to take legal and workplace health and safety advice on their specific situation.
The Strata Community Association (Qld) has written to Queensland chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young and Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk seeking further guidance on the issue.