SEOUL, Nov. 4 (Korea Bizwire) — Hundreds of gym operators collectively sued the government for damages Thursday, claiming anti-COVID-19 business restrictions caused heavy losses to private indoor sports facilities and violated their rights to property and equality.
About 350 gym operators and employees joined hands to file the suit with the Seoul Central District Court, demanding the government pay some 3.4 billion won (US$2.88 million) in compensation for the financial losses they suffered due to state-ordered business restrictions.
Holding a press conference before the legal action, associations of gym operators, including the Korea Indoor Sport Facilities Association (KIFA), said they were left to shoulder the burden of rent and labor costs on their own while their businesses were ordered to close or cut down on operating hours due to the pandemic.
“Indoor sports facilities have been subject, since last year, to three months of a ban on human assemblage and six months of business restrictions,” Park Joo-hyung, a spokesman of KIFA, said.
“We urge the government to make up properly for the damages caused to indoor sports facilities that did what the state told them to do since the outbreak of COVID-19,” he said.
Bae Tae-hyun, a lawyer representing the complainants, also said not compensating for such business suspensions, whose efficacy against the prevention of virus spread is unknown, constitutes a violation of gym operators’ rights to property and equality.
The gym associations also prodded the government to abolish its “vaccine pass” system, which requires records of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test results to use certain multi-use facilities, such as indoor gyms, saying it is inflicting business losses on them.
“We are preparing to launch a nationwide rally, a constitutional petition and further civil suits if there are no policy changes during the two-week grace period,” Park said.