Gyms ask for 'fair support' from state due to Covid-related losses

State aid for fitness centers is no longer available since it is legally allowed for them to open. Representatives of the industry say, however, that the aid is still necessary since the customer turnover is much lower, Latvian Radio reported August 24.

This year, for the period from January to the end of March, the industry received support, calculated by the number of square meters of the fitness center. The Latvian Health and Fitness Association assessed this as relatively good, but after March, problems began. Namely, between April and mid-June, fitness centers faced similar restrictions, but they no longer received previous support. Also after mid-June, centers can be visited with strict limits, and attendance at these establishments is relatively low.

The head of the Latvian Health and Fitness Association, Gints Kuzņecovs, told Latvian Radio: “We were closed completely, one hundred percent, until mid-June. So we would also like aid for April, May and half of June. And now there is this regulation and all people cannot come to visit, so we would like specialized support, which would not be large, by our estimates, some 2 million [EUR]."

The head of the “MyFitness” sports club network in Latvia, Inna Alne, agreed that there is currently a lack of support. It has become clear in the negotiations with members of the government that, at least in the near future, there is no hope that more people would be allowed in.

“The attendance is very low. Our employees are practically all vaccinated, we are prepared to work, but unfortunately, the amount of people is insufficient to ensure our normal performance,” she said.

The money allocated to support fitness centers during the Covid-19 crisis is administered by the Latvian Investment Development Agency. Its representative, Jānis Kovaļevskis, said that EUR 4.84 million of aid has been paid to fitness centers and that there is no plan to pay any more money for the period after the end of March.

In the meantime, the industry hopes of returning to the normal pace at least in the coming years, but the head of the Latvian Health and Fitness Association, Gints Kuzņecovs, stressed that fitness centers are often a step before physiotherapy or some serious problems that can cost the country even more.

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