The owners presented a list of demands, most important of which was financial aid to help sustain their operations.
“The Labour Fund (Tamkeen) has taken a decision, based on directives by His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince Prime Minister, to extend its Business Continuity Support Programme to exhibitions, conference and gyms sectors,” said a statement.
The above sectors have been badly hit by the precautionary measures taken to limit the spread of the pandemic in the kingdom.
“Tamkeen will continue to extend support to these sectors for six months.”
The aid also covers the salaries for six months of tour guides registered with the Industry, Commerce and Tourism Ministry.
Tourism activities remain suspended as part of wider Covid-19 restrictions.
Tamkeen chief executive Dr Ebrahim Janahi said financial grants will be provided to support the most affected sectors during the pandemic.
“Bahrain continues to follow up on the latest data and developments the market faces, to provide a feasible solution to the sectors, whose activities were affected as a result of Covid-19 precautionary measures,” he said.
“The affected institutions should provide an alternative or creative solution in line with market data as part of future needs.”
Tamkeen said 279 businesses in the exhibitions and conferences sector received support, while 182 gyms were covered under its Business Continuity Support Programme.
The fund is currently providing, for three months from January, 50 per cent of the salaries of insured Bahrainis in private sector companies whose scope of activity remains suspended due to the pandemic.
“Gym owners gathered yesterday and submitted a letter that lists their monthly operational costs including staff salaries, rents, utility bills, Labour Market Regulatory Authority and Social Insurance Organisation fees,” said Bahraini Adel Al Murbati, who ran three gyms before the pandemic but was forced to close two of them, in Hamala and Riffa.
“For example, my fixed operational cost per month is about BD4,500, while other big gyms pay more.
“The gym owners are not pocketing any money since last year and continue to struggle to keep their operations running with high costs.”
Mr Al Murbati welcomed Tamkeen’s announcement, adding it was high time landlords also got flexible with their monthly rentals.
The GDN reported last week that gym owners had warned of mass closures of their businesses due to pending rents, staff salaries and other fixed operational costs.
Many were genuinely concerned about bankruptcy and eviction orders with some already facing court cases filed by landlords over unpaid rent.
Indoor gyms, swimming pools and sports halls were directed closed for two weeks until February 21, and the ruling was then extended to March 14.
Outdoor activities in the private fitness facilities have been limited to 30 people.
Gyms and fitness studios were first shut down in March last year, reopening in August under strict guidelines, shutting down again in February this year.
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