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Lethbridge gym owners react to new targeted regional COVID-19 restrictions


Lethbridge gym owners aren’t surprised they have to close again but that doesn’t mean they’re happy.

On Thursday, Premier Jason Kenney announced targeted regional restrictions for COVID-19 hot spots in Alberta.

Read more: Alberta introduces targeted restrictions in ‘hot spots’ as active COVID-19 cases reach all-time high

Those regions are areas that have a COVID-19 case rate of at least 350 per 100,000 population and 250 currently active cases.

Junior and senior high school students in these “hot spots” will be heading back to at-home learning starting Monday.

Indoor fitness and indoor sports were told to close.

“Closing gyms three weeks ago didn’t make a difference. Numbers only went up,” said Kotkas. “So why is closing one-on-one fitness going to make any difference at all?”

Read more: GYMVMT to close some locations after bankruptcy filing, vows to keep fighting

Gym owners in Lethbridge say they found out about the changes at the same time as the rest of the province.

“There’s no letter, there’s no phone call given to these gyms,” said Russ Stewart, owner of CrossFit Framework.

“It’s like we’re expected to get our news from Twitter, Facebook and social media and it’s effective next day.”

“For the government to think that in 10 hours, a business can close or can open, is just mind blowing,” said Joel Kotkas, owner of Fit Body Bootcamp.

Click to play video: Alberta premier announces targeted COVID-19 restrictions in ‘hot spots’

Kotkas and Stewart agree that what makes this so frustrating is the lack of supporting data.

The province has not shared a comprehensive overview of where the spread is happening.

Read more: Variants in Alberta schools: An in-depth look at climbing cases and spread

In a statement to Global News, a spokesperson for Alberta Health said that the rising transmission is not linked to any one sector.

Click to play video: ‘It’s clear as mud’: Edmonton restaurateurs uncertain about Alberta COVID-19 rule enforcement

On Friday, gym owners were getting ready to pivot yet again.

“The first time it was a big adjustment,” said Stewart. “There was a lot of emotions and things going through your head like, ‘What are we going to do and how are we going to do this?'”

By now, they say the clients are used to it.

“The clients that we do have left, they’re extremely supportive,” said Kotkas.

“They’re almost just used to it now. It’s become the norm, which is the craziest thing to say.”

Read more: Economy vs. health: Experts say COVID-19 has put Alberta in ‘disproportionate’ balance

The targeted restrictions can be lifted after 14 days if a region or municipality falls below the threshold.

“I give myself five minutes to be upset about it and then I move on. I know that there’s nothing that I can personally do to change these things,” said Stewart.

In the meantime, Fit Body Bootcamp will be offering classes online and outdoors, weather permitting. More information can be found on their Facebook page.

CrossFit Framework has a space behind their studio for outdoor classes. More information can be found on their Facebook page.