Gym owners feel left behind after COVID-19 restrictions modified
WINDSOR, ONT. -- Frustration is mounting with some gym owner after the province modified COVID-19 restrictions.
“We just want to open in a fair capacity limited way," says Chuck Kelly, CEO of Movati Athletic Club.
He feels gyms were left behind when the province recently modified its COVID-19 restrictions.
"We are just looking for fairness to come from the health unit and the government. They recently expanded their capacity limits for restaurants, churches and also other venues and fitness wasn’t included.”
Depsite Windsor-Essex being in the red-control zone the doors to Kelly’s health club on Division Road have remained closed since November.
“We just can’t make sense being open with 10 (people maximum). It would infuriate our members that are paying us, that want to come in and can’t book a time.”
Chuck Kelly, CEO of Movati Athletic Club, speaks in Windsor, Ont. on Friday, March 26, 2021. (Alana Hadadean / CTV Windsor)
Joey Flores, the owner of Riverside Family Fitness, says, “I’m a little disappointed gyms were left out.”
Even at a smaller facility like Riverside, which reopened in February, Flores remains unhappy with the restrictions
"Just based on the sheer size of the building we can handle many more people and still be safe and socially distance."
Joey Flores, owner of Riverside Family Fitness in Windsor, Ont. speaks on Friday, March 26, 2021. (Alana Hadadean / CTV Windsor)
Local health officials say it’s up to the province to change the rules of the COVID-19 response framework.
Dr. Wajid Ahmed, medical officer of health with the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit says, "Unfortunately I only have the authority to close things down and not to override what the province is closing. I cannot open things up. I can understand their concerns, their frustration but this is not something I can do anything."
Infectious disease epidemiologist, Dr. Zahid Butt, says variants, distancing and sanitization factor into current restrictions,
“I do understand the frustration of these large gym owners. I think the province needs to think about looking at the indoor restrictions, especially for large gyms, and decide on having like maybe more people in a large gym as compared to a smaller gym if they can maintain those public health guidelines.”
Owners feel like fairness is attainable, by changing the limit to a percentage of space.
Kelly says, “If they were to go to a 20 per cent a 25 per cent capacity there would be logic behind it. You could look at it and say OK, they are smaller, you can put less people in it. You’re larger, you have more open square footage and space, you can allow for more people to come in and use your facility. That’s all we’ve been asking for.”