Fraser Health orders all gyms and fitness centres to close
VANCOUVER -- Updated: April 15, 2020
Fraser Health's chief medical officer, Dr. Martin Lavoie, has ordered all indoor gyms and fitness centres to close immediately.
This comes three weeks after CTV News first reported about EZ Fit in New Westminster and Burnaby that had decided to keep its 24 hour facilties open. The order issued by Fraser Health also applies to weight training, gymnastics, martial arts facilities, yoga and dance studios and other facilities.
Lavoie has determined that the use of these types of facitilies can promote the transmission of COVID-19. The order is set to expire at the end of May but is subject to revision, cancellation or extension.
Lavoie didn't get into specific numbers about how many gyms had remained opened but says his department physically visited a handful of sites and issued the order directly to them.
"For those we had concerns with yes, we did," Dr. Lavoie said.
He said the order extends to all facilities both private and municipally owned, like recreation centres and shared facilties in condominium complexes.
"Anywhere where you can actually have congregation of people playing sports, that's the concept," he added. "I would be surprised that people defied such an order but if that happens, we would certainly act on that," Dr. Lavoie said.
Any gyms that defy the order could potentially be fined.
When asked why it took weeks to shut them down after other gyms had voluntarily closed, Dr. Lavoie said it took time to realize the risks and to determine that these facilities could not adhere to the proper cleaning techniques and distancing requirements that have been set down by the provincial health officer.
April 3, 2020
On April 3 Island Health also ordered gyms and fitness centres to close. That order expires at the end of May and could also be extended.
Updated: April 2, 2020
The Chief Medical Health Officer at Interior Health has issued an order for all fitness centres, gyms, yoga studios or similar personal training facilities to close as of April 2, 2020. The health officer has determined these types of facilities promote the transmission and spread of COVID-19.
The order expires on May 30, 2020. Even with this move, there has so far been no order to close gyms in Metro Vancouver - despite complaints.
March 26, 2020
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has asked us all to limit our time in public and has ordered many kinds of businesses to close, including bars, clubs, salons, spas and tattoo parlours. However she has not issued a province wide order to close gyms.
"Each region is dealing with these issues on a complaints basis. Public health officials are responding on an individual basis. There were a number of cases in Interior Health that led them to issue the order," she stated.
Many fitness centres closed voluntarily a couple of weeks ago and now CTV News is getting complaints about those that remain open.
EZ Fit in New Westminster is still open 24 hours a day and some of its members are concerned.
“Well you’re sharing equipment even if you do go ahead and wipe that down it’s just, there’s too much of a risk,” said Johanton, an EZ Fit member who did not want his last name used.
CTV News visited both the Burnaby and New West locations and saw signs on the door limiting the number of people allowed inside; just 11 at the New Westminster location, 16 at the Burnaby gym.
There are also signs on the door advising health precautions to take and encouraging physical distancing.
One member working out inside was asked if he was worried about the Corona virus.
“No, I hear about corona but there’s not that much people though,” he said, looking around at a few other members working out.
Dr. Henry has asked all of us to do our part.
“We need to connect virtually. We need to have a safe space between us for the next little while,” she said. “Small groups, even two or three, can sometimes be that transmission point.”
Yet gyms can stay open as long as they meet the health requirements set down by health officials including, cleaning recommendations and physical distancing.
But with many gyms deciding to shut down voluntarily, we asked EZ Fit owner Shing Tam why he hasn’t.
“Right now the B.C. government says anything above 50 people has to close. They never said that fitness centres or gyms has to close,” he said.
Tam says first responders have been asking for a place to work out and he wants to give it to them.
“We have sanitizer, we have soap, we are mopping every day,” he said.
He says if the province tells him to close he’ll do that but will remain open until then.
However, he’s getting some push back from people who have been weighing in.
“I don’t know who makes the decisions but I don’t think they’re doing the right thing,” said Johnathon. “So I think they’ve gotten some comments. They’re going to have to make a decision pretty quick here.”