China shuts gyms and pools over fears of second wave of coronavirus

President Xi Jinping has taken steps to avoid a second wave of Covid-19 cases in the country

China has closed gyms and swimming pools again over fears there could be a second wave of coronavirus in the country.

Gyms in China were initially closed in January​ but had gradually reopened over the last few weeks as the country looked to kick-start the fitness industry.

Concerns over a resurgence of Covid-19 have risen after a spike in imported cases in China. The government has imposed a 14-day quarantine at designated hotels for anyone arriving in Beijing.

Schools have started to reopen in the capital, with other cities confirming dates to follow suit. Some 50,000 high school students in Beijing started their third year on Monday, which is seen as crucial ahead of the university entrance exam known as the gaokao. China has also unveiled plans from 1 June to enforce separate portions at restaurants rather than traditional sharing meals designed for families.

To date, there have been 83,912 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in China, with 4,637 fatalities as of Monday morning, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

The fitness industry has been hit particularly hard in China, with more businesses (6,969) in that field dissolving or suspending operations in the first quarter of this year than over the entirety of 2015 (4,632), according to Chinese data analysis company Qichacha.

Following closures, there has been a surge in online fitness apps such as Keep, which moved to the top of Apple’s app store for its category and has attracted $170 million (around £137m) in investment from Goldman Sachs, Chinese technology giant Tencent and venture capital firm GGV, according to business data service Crunchbase.

The majority of operating costs at gyms stems from rent, which can range from 150,000 yuan (around £17,000) to 1 million yuan (around £114,000) in Beijing, which has led to many fitness businesses attempting to renegotiate rent with landlords.

Ankit Nayal, a director at Beijing-based B Active 24 Hour Fitness, insists relief from the government will prove critical in the weeks ahead to avoid further businesses closing.

“It’s very difficult for us because we are an offline provider,” Mr. Nayal told CNBC. “We’re still investigating online revenue options.

“The government has been very helpful in coming up with policies towards the rent.”

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