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Gym closed for two weeks over SafeKey breaches

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Karen Hodgkins at Magnum Power Force Gym (File photograph)

A gym owner whose business was closed by health officials for two weeks said others could be shut over regulations against Covid-19.

Karen Hodgkins, the owner of Magnum Power Force Gym in Hamilton, said gyms were “stuck between a rock and a hard place” over SafeKey requirements.

Ms Hodgkins was part of a coalition of gym owners who objected in August to the SafeKey requirement for their members, which she said was destroying business.

She admitted that SafeKey signs had not been posted at the gym and that she had not implemented it.

The closure order came after the gym was visited by health department staff last week.

Ms Hodgkins had opted to quarantine herself at home while she recovered from a cold.

The two-week shutdown was imposed from this week.

Ms Hodgkins said: “I know I took a stance. There might be more closures. But the point is nobody talked to us or listened to our concerns.

“I think I’m being put in a position of discriminating against my own members, between unvaccinated and vaccinated, and it does not make me feel comfortable.

“Vaccinated people can walk in and they could still be carrying the virus.”

She added: “I tried to explain why it would not work for gyms. It’s a membership club.

“The members are in their own bubble. It’s not like a restaurant. These are the same people that come in regularly at the same time.”

Ms Hodgkins added: “Don’t get me wrong – people can show their SafeKey if they want.”

She said hand sanitisers were available, temperature checks were carried out and gym-goers had to wear masks.

Ms Hodgkins claimed that gyms that had enforced SafeKey had lost members.

She added: “That’s exactly what I was afraid of.”

SafeKey requirements mean unvaccinated people have to get tested twice a week.

Ms Hodgkins said a group of gyms had raised concerns over the use of SafeKey because “it didn’t seem realistic for a membership club”.

She added gyms had been hit by members demanding refunds or quitting their membership.

Ms Hodgkins admitted it was now a question of “whether we survive”.