Why are you allowed to sweat and gasp next to each other in the gym without a QR code, not at the disco?

Soon you will be there, as a visitor in the gymnasium, a meter and a half away from other people sweating and panting. Was the guy on the left already vaccinated? Does she have a cold, or does her nose run from stress? It’s a bit of a double feeling, working on your health in this place.

When the latest relaxation comes into effect on Saturday, gyms will no longer have to check negative QR codes or PCR tests and no longer have to keep their distance. Yippie, cheer for the strip. Bikes in the spinning category will be a wheel with a handlebar as usual. The queues for popular classes will soon end, members promised in enthusiastic emails.

“I understand that this feels a little crazy.”

Epidemiologists describe it as a hazard, as they make an intense 45-minute effort in an enclosed space near each other, which leads to heavy breathing and volatile body fluids. “Sweating and gasping next to each other is not a pleasant idea in an epidemic,” says Frits Rosendal of Leiden University Medical Center. “I would find those chapters so close together a little intimidating.”

“You’re taking risks as an athlete,” Esther Meeting adds. The epidemiologist and behavioral scientist from the University Medical Center Groningen stress that ventilation will be very important. “I understand that this feels a little crazy. You run a similar risk in discos and gyms, and a QR code is mandatory in nightclubs.”

However, both worlds understand the Cabinet’s decision to give gyms an exceptional status, just like education. The scale: “It’s best to ask for a vaccination certificate or a negative test result, but on the other hand, you want to keep the exercise barrier as low as possible.”

calculated risk

A spokesperson for the Department of Health, Welfare and Sports explains that this is precisely the reason for the decision. “Exercise is excluded because sport makes an important contribution to the health and resilience of society.”

Rosendal understands that government weighs public health interests. “You are taking a somewhat calculated risk. To some extent, because it is currently very difficult to estimate the magnitude of that risk. How many athletes have been vaccinated? Are there many people in poor health among the athletes? Precisely because making models is something Very difficult, I think it would be wise for the government to try something every now and then. Provided they are closely watching what the gyms’ contribution to infection is.”

Whether or not this helps achieve the ministry’s goal of keeping as many people in motion as possible is open to question. Practically the threshold is low but psychologically? Behavioral scientist Mitting believes that the value people still attach to the meter and a half is based on their feelings of vulnerability. “If you feel you are at high risk of getting sick, you will be more careful. But the rest will have no problem getting close to each other again. This is a learned automated behavior. It is in our brain. Anyone feeling relaxed goes back to old patterns.”

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