A DUBLIN gym is at the centre of controversy for refusing to close for the duration of Level 5 restrictions.
From midnight tonight, Ireland will return to lockdown for a period of six weeks in an attempt to slow the spike in coronavirus cases being experienced in almost every county.
The new measures include the order for all non-essential retail and services to close-- however the Westside Gym in Dublin argue that they are an essential service, because going to the gym can help with members' mental health.
A spokesperson for the gym took to Instagram yesterday where they wrote that they were "saddened that our government has not listened to the voice of the Irish people. There was not one mention of the importance of exercise in maintaining positive mental health."
They went on to say "Our plan is simple. We plan to stay open," adding "We must follow our heart on this one."
View this post on Instagram
Dearest members of the Westside Crew We know that you have been anxiously awaiting our response to last nights announcement by the Taoiseach. We are saddened that our government has not listened to the voice of the Irish people. There was not one mention of the importance of exercise in maintaining positive mental health. That being said, I'm sure you are wondering what we are planning to do at Westside gym. Our plan is simple, we plan to stay open. We did not broadcast this on social media last night and the reason for this was because we are trying to put our members first. We felt the less attention we drew to this, the longer we could stay open. We completely disagree with the government recommendations, but we felt that Westside gym would be standing alone as there are other gyms who would not join in this cause. However, we must follow our heart on this one. Ultimately, we want to do whats best for our members and their mental health. We have just reinvested again in our biggest ever upgrade here at the gym, which has already been paid in full. As a local business, We would not be in a position to freeze memberships again for a second time. Therefore, the show must go on. The doors will be open at Westside and we will be following our usual safety guidelines and procedures. If you feel personally vulnerable at these times, please stay at home. If you want to keep training, our staff will be here for you. Our 'government' have shown a total disregard for your mental health. The rising number of Covid-19 cases are NOT coming from gyms and we think it is very unfair that this has been overlooked. Dark days, dark nights and dark minds. Please mind your mental health in these times. Anything we can do to help, please let us know. Westside will remain open, alone or not, we are here for you. Kind Regards All of the Westside Team ❤ #wearewestside #westsidecrew #irishfitfam #standwithus #irishgyms #inthistogether
The spokesperson reiterated that they were doing this "for our members and their mental health", and said they had just upgraded the gym and could not afford to close for six weeks again-- "therefore the show must go on."
They urged anyone who wished to exercise within the gym to attend, but "if you feel personally vulnerable at these times please stay at home."
"Our 'government' have shown a total disregard for your mental health," they said. "The rising number of Covid-19 cases are NOT coming from gyms and we think it is very unfair that this has been overlooked."
Under the new restrictions, exercise is encouraged and permitted outdoors within 5km from your home, but no group training is allowed.
The gym's announcement garnered controversy, but some members congratulated the gym on their stance, with one man saying "I for one am extremely grateful that you’re staying open and will be more than happy to continue paying membership if Westside is forced to closed".
"You have our full support as members no matter what happens," another wrote.
Others pointed out that the decision flew in the face of public health advice and could potentially put others at risk or cause a rise in cases, with one person commenting that what Westside was doing was "crazy".
"Whether it’s having a massive rave or keeping a gym open, breaking rules = breaking rules. SLAP IN THE FACE to everybody else in Ireland trying their best," they wrote. "Hope you get a MASSIVE fine"
"So basically you don't want to lose any money like everyone else so f*ck the recommendations," another woman commented.