As unemployment in South Africa continues to rise, I suppose working for anybody can be seen as a bonus.
For Virgin Active staff in the country, though, some serious tightening of the budget straps will need to happen, with the company announcing that it will now cut the salaries of more than 3 000 staff members by 75%.
Much like the food and beverage industry, the national lockdown regulations have placed immense strain on the health and fitness sector, which also says its talks with President Ramaphosa and other decisionmakers have proven fruitless.
According to IOL, many were under the impression that the sector would reopen under the amendments to alert level 3, but were left high and dry after Ramaphosa made no mention of that during his most recent address to the nation.
I guess they don’t have quite as much pull as the taxi industry.
Insiders told IOL that Virgin Active – one of the leading gym companies in the country – spent a small fortune preparing signage and other Covid-19 related marketing ploys to convince the government of their readiness to reopen.
Gyms have been closed since March, when government instituted the lockdown.
A spokesperson for Virgin Active said the company had stopped collecting debit orders from members since the start of the lockdown and had received no membership revenue since March.
When, or if, the gyms are able to open, the spokesperson added that the temporary layoffs would be abandoned.
Around the country, Virgin Active managers are trying to figure out how best to stay afloat, and Ramaphosa’s failure to address the issue has put immense additional strain on finances.
Here’s one Durban-based manager:
“The president’s address threw everything into disarray. Our managing director communicated in June saying we are getting clubs ready, so we were hopeful we would be going back to work.
“The MD said if we don’t get the go ahead to operate from the government, they will have to lay off and at that time they were confident that it would not go there because talks with government were positive,” said the insider, who bemoaned that government had reopened other recreational activities like cinemas, casinos and theatres.
Time and time again, the seemingly arbitrary nature of many lockdown regulations is what most infuriates people.
Insiders though they had a “watertight plan” for reopening, with safety measures in place (more on those here), but now they’re left anxiously looking at possible future dates:
A Virgin Active spokesperson said gyms were scheduled to reopen under level 1 of the lockdown…
“Gyms are currently scheduled to reopen at level 1 and could therefore remain closed for an extended period of time,” said the company.
We can most certainly add gyms to the list of businesses that will look rather different post-pandemic.
In a video released on June 11, the company outlined what reopening might look like:
They’ll be waiting quite sometime before they can put those measures into place.
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