Update: Fraser Health has removed its online guidelines and is now directing facilities to the gym and fitness centre protocols crafted by WorkSafeBC.
All of the B.C. health authorities that ordered gyms to close down over concerns around COVID-19 transmission are giving them the green light to reopen after the Victoria Day long weekend – provided they have safety plans in place.
Fraser Health, Island Health and Interior Health have all announced they are lifting their closure orders for gyms and fitness facilities on Tuesday.
That will allow everything from "weight training, gymnastics and martial arts facilities" to "yoga and dance studios" to begin operating again, Fraser Health said in an information bulletin.
But individual businesses can only reopen if they have approved plans for ensuring the safety of clients and staff, covering everything from enhanced cleaning to physical distancing measures.
Gyms and fitness centres in the Fraser Health region have been advised that "twenty-four hour unrestricted facility access without staff present on site should not be allowed," the health authority said in a set of guidelines posted on its website.
Gyms are also required to limit how many people they allow inside, depending on the size of the facility, to ensure distancing is possible, and to screen everyone who arrives for cough, cold or COVID-19 symptoms. Anyone living with someone who is sick or under quarantine is not to be allowed inside.
Cardio machines are also to be kept at least two metres apart whenever possible, and fountains and any other self-serve drink stations are to be turned off.
"Customers should be advised to bring their own filled water bottles. Staff can fill drink orders for customers, but must not refill a used cup," Fraser Health said.
The closure orders issued by the three health authorities were initially scheduled to expire on May 30. Vancouver Coastal Health and Northern Health never issued any such orders.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the closures were ordered after gyms and fitness centres were linked to transmission of the COVID-19 virus.
She said a number of smaller gyms have been getting by during the crisis by holding classes online or outside.