As gyms, fitness studios and a plethora of sports and recreational activities opened back up on Thursday after Hong Kong’s fourth wave finally dissipated, citizens rejoiced at the ability to partake in their favourite pastimes once again. The World Health Organization recommends regular exercise as a way to help fight the coronavirus, but Hong Kong’s government has locked down most people from playing the sports they love for more than 150 days. While the energy and happiness was palpable around the city on Thursday, a looming question lingers, one that nobody wants to ask but one we all need to think about: what is the government’s plan if a fifth wave hits? The South China Morning Post reached out to the Home Affairs Bureau, which oversees sport and recreation, specifically asking for the government’s planif a fifth wave does come. They responded by offering up the same press release that outlines the many strait-jacket requirements people have to adhere to. This should send shivers down the spine of everyone, be it those who love yoga, play football, or like to hit the gym every morning before work. It appears the government will simply do what they did before, lock everything down. Why there have been no lessons learned as the pandemic enters its second year is mind-boggling. Hong Kong’s swimming pools and beaches are still closed, as if the government has somehow forgotten about them in the push to reopen the city. Beaches and outdoor venues, where people can easily social distance, do not seem like a threat even in the slightest. Red tape nightmare for gym owners trying to get funding Hong Kong’s case total is incredibly low when you look at global standards. Most statistical analyses don’t even have us in the top 100 in cases per capita. But at what cost are we fighting a virus that seems to have no end? Hundreds of businesses, some of them gym owners, have gone bankrupt. The government has now had four opportunities to study, monitor and gather plans and strategies handling surges in cases. One would think they would be adapting, revising and updating their modus operandi each time, taking into account such things as staying fit as a great way to fight the virus. They plastered posters around the city, telling citizens to keep moving and stay active as a way to help fight the pandemic, but then in turn left them out in the cold when it came to venues and the ability to do so, outside of working out in the privacy of their own homes. While some people enjoy keeping fit in their flats, to say the whole city is OK with this is way off base. Virtually all sports require fields, pitches and venues to practice and play. You can’t play football in your flat, especially in a place like Hong Kong. One even wonders how people practice something stationary like yoga, if they live in a tiny flat with two or three other people. It shows adaptability in the face of adversity, but it’s a Band-Aid on a bullet wound. If a fifth wave does come, let’s hope the government has the wherewithal to at least allow outdoor sports such as tennis and golf to continue. They are sports that naturally lend themselves to social distancing. Gym owners have also raised salient points through the pandemic. Fitness studios can easily monitor who comes and goes from their classes, they can cap numbers, require patrons to wear masks, sign health declaration forms, and regularly sanitise and wash their hands. They have the power to fight the virus while also keeping people fit, happy and sane. The most perplexing thing is when you juxtapose this with shopping centres. In any mall across the city you are free to come and go as you please, walk in and out of any store with nothing more than a temperature check, which is barely monitored with any consistency any more. There is no cap on numbers and no way to monitor movement. The government has asked citizens to make immeasurable sacrifices, four times over. They have taken away the sports we love to play, and given us next-to-nothing in terms of options. If they want their citizens to help them curb the virus, they need to start a back-and-forth dialogue with various industries. As many people know, as in sport as in life, a little give goes a long way.