Due to the introduction of the Covid Safe Ticket (CST) to gain access to fitness centres in Belgium since 1 November, they are losing 10% to 20% of their members, the sector says.
Since 15 October in the Brussels-Capital Region, and 1 November in Flanders and Wallonia, people must present a CST if they want to go to the gym or a sports school.
"About 86% of the fitness entrepreneurs indicate that members stop or freeze their subscriptions because of the introduction of the CST," Eric Vandenabeele of Fitness.be told the Belga News Agency, adding that this has "serious consequences" for the sector.
About 66% of gyms would lose up to 10% of their members, and 24% would even lose up to a fifth of their members, according to a survey taken from 270 companies, including several large chains with multiple branches such as Basic-Fit.
Fitness chains whose centres usually remained open during the night, including Basic-Fit, already had to adapt their opening hours so staff did not have to work night shifts to check clients' CSTs.
“Unfortunately, because of this new measure, we will have to close around 100 24/7 clubs in Flanders and Brussels, so we will effectively have to fall back on regular opening hours, meaning our gyms will be open until 10:30 PM instead of all throughout the night," Kevin Ayeni, Basic-Fit’s Marketing Manager for the Benelux, told The Brussels Times at the end of October.
In addition to the loss of revenue, many entrepreneurs also have to invest extra in staff to scan members' CST, Vandenabeel said. "This is extra painful because our entrepreneurs have invested hard in ventilation, disinfection and general hygiene."