Melburnians must stay within 25 kilometres of home, meaning travelling for the Queen’s Birthday long weekend is not allowed while aquatic and fitness facilities will remain closed in the metropolitan area.

Victoria’s Chief Health Officer, Professor Sutton, asked the exercise sector to “make the sacrifice” in his Health Department’s fight against the latest COVID-19 outbreak. This request was accompanied with the repeated but fallacious justification that the exercise sector is high risk.

Let’s take some time to unpack the absurdity of this situation.

Firstly, the Victorian Health Department’s own data contradicts the high risk allegation. Since reopening in November the sector has experienced almost seven million visitations with NO virus transmissions. Further, none of the health club sites identified as “hot spots” during the current lockdown have experienced a transmission.

Secondly, the Department considers cafes, bars, beauty salons, tattoo parlours, and heaven forbid, brothels, the latter I imagine involves some heavy breathing and possible sweat, as being less risky than exercise facilities that include such low intensity activities as Yoga, Pilates and Dance.

To put this in context let us imagine a soon to be married couple. The bride to-be attends a beauty parlour before joining her friends at a local café for her Hen’s Party. After a meal, accompanied with a few drinks, the group moves to a hotel where many more glasses of celebratory champagne are literally shared. Several of the group then decide it would be a great idea to get a tattoo marking the happy occasions in perpetuity. These are all okay as Victorian Health deems them low risk. However, the morning after our bride to-be cannot join her normal Yoga class, even with a mask, as this is deemed high risk.

On the same night, the groom’s best man has arranged a Buck’s Party. This involves a tour of many hospitality venues accompanied with much conviviality. As the night closes our groom is persuaded to visit a private “Men’s Club” to mark his last night of being a single man; an activity he enters into with some trepidation as the hostesses are not wearing masks. However, the morning after our sheepish groom can’t attend his local indoor leisure centre for a recovery swim as its deemed high risk.

Sounds impossible, but that’s the absurd reality of Victoria as we know it today.

Sectors that have contributed to the various outbreaks and lockdown across Melbourne and Victoria are able to resume “normal’ operation. However, the exercise sector has been asked multiple times to “make the sacrifice” since March 2020, yet by definition a sacrifice can only be made once. It appears more the case that the exercise sector is the ongoing sacrificial lamb on an altar built on false premises and illogical decisions.