Gyms operating in Estonia have asked the government for direct support and a VAT reduction on gym services. In a letter sent to the government, gyms called for €30 million in state aid.
Gyms sent a joint letter to the prime minister on Thursday, in which they say that they have been closed for 137 days since the start of the pandemic and have operated in limited conditions in the remaining time. This has caused visitor numbers to drop significantly and only state aid would help bring gyms out of the crisis.
Some sports clubs have already closed doors and others say bankruptcies and layoffs await. "Everything that could be optimized has been optimized in the last 1.5 years. In addition to the imposed restrictions and complicated situation, utility costs have gone up considerably and there is no alleviation expected in the near future," the letter reads.
The reference point for the state aid should be the total surface are of the gyms and not what has been registered in the sports registry, since the latter only includes actual training areas, which make up some 60 percent of the total area.
"Currently, the sector's companies operate at half of their revenue, there are loans and defaults, it is not possible to pay wages - this is not a sustainable perspective. Estonia lacks state aid measures, which is completely exclusive in Europe," the gyms said.
The sports clubs also expect a reduction on VAT from 20 percent to 9 percent. A similar reduction was established in Lithuania this year, the gyms said, adding that lower VAT rates have become a standard in multiple countries, such as Norway, Sweden, Finland and Poland.
In total, Estonian fitness and sports clubs require at least €30 million.
The joint letter was signed by MyFitness AS, 24-7fitnessklubi OÜ, Lasnamäe Spordikeskus OÜ, Spa Tours OÜ (Viimsi SPA Spordiklubi, Tervise ja Spordi Edendamise Selts, Arigato Spordiklubi MTÜ, Crossfitest OÜ, Power OÜ and Omaklubi Spordiklubi.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste