Dr. Henry's comments on spin classes 'irresponsible and damaging,' business owner says
VANCOUVER -- Dominik Desbois, like many business owners, has a whole new way of doing things since the pandemic hit.
“We’ve reduced the number of bikes in every room by half,” said the founder of Spin Society. "We’re literally cleaning the bikes three, four, five times a day if need be.”
He said they also have mandatory mask policies, requirements around how many people can be inside the change rooms at once, and barriers installed around the bikes.
But after comments made by B.C.’s provincial health officer in her Thursday briefing, that may no longer be enough.
“Right now, spin classes in Metro Vancouver are dangerous,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry. "We should not be doing those things.”
“I just felt right off the bat the comments were irresponsible and really damaging to our business operations,” said Desbois. "Why us?”
Henry noted case numbers across the province are climbing, and as the weather changes and people move inside, they need to be careful about "what types of risks we're potentially exposing ourselves to.”
She singled out spinning, highlighting that B.C. has seen 20 to 30 cases linked to those types of fitness classes.
“I have to say, I've not been to a spin class myself but we're on bikes, people are sweating," she said. "And you know, there's usually loud music and you're in indoor space and people are breathing heavily."
Desbois told CTV News they’ve never had a case, but she’s now put him and many other businesses in a difficult position.
“Already this morning I’m flooded with emails asking for cancellations, package renewals that are being put on hold,” said Desbois. "So I don’t know what comes next.”
He also said he can’t take advantage of maximum government subsidies to stay open and keep his 50 employees working.
“We’re kind of on the cusp of just making too much revenue to qualify for the maximum amount of subsidies when it comes to both the wage subsidy but also the newly announced rent subsidy,” he explained. "It’s almost like I need to slow down my business, not accept as much revenue, to be able to qualify and then survive.”
CTV News reached out to the Ministry of Health Friday but did not hear back. Vancouver Coastal Health said in an email that "there have been no clusters or outbreaks of COVID-19 at spin classes in our region.”
"We know from contact tracing that most businesses — of all types — have effective safety plans that limit the spread of COVID-19. Through the course of our investigations, we do sometimes find a business where transmission has occurred because they do not have an adequate safety plan," the health authority said.
"We close businesses when we believe it’s necessary to prevent COVID-19 transmission at the facility. Under the direction of Public Health, the business can usually reopen safely once additional measures are in place to reduce the risk of transmission.”
Desbois said he just wants clarity from the provincial health officer.
“The best thing that could ever come out of this is for Dr. Bonnie Henry to simply state where ... we go from here,” he said. "Is it that dangerous that we are required to close? If yes, place the order. And if not then simply don’t label us as dangerous.”