Gyms in Ottawa looking to continue serving clients with disabilities under Ontario’s COVID-19 stay-home order will have to comply with a new order issued Tuesday from the city’s medical officer of health.
Dr. Vera Etches has instituted a new Section 22 class order affecting indoor gyms and recreational facilities. While such sites are required to close under Ontario’s state of emergency, gyms are permitted to open solely for the purpose of serving clients with disabilities who cannot exercise elsewhere.
Others in the province have remained open in protest of the closures.
Starting Tuesday morning at 12:01 a.m., all patrons at the gym will have to show a staff member written instructions from a doctor or physical therapist indicating the person needs access to the facility.
Gym operators must also list each patron’s contact information and ensure they have an appointment for their workout and are screened for COVID-19 symptoms before entering the facility.
Among the most important new measures is an order to allow inspectors on-site to ensure compliance with all public health directives.
Health and bylaw officials have said they have been challenged as of late with some business operators not allowing enforcement officers on-site to check whether COVID-19 protocols are being followed.
Anyone found not to be in compliance with the Section 22 order is subject to a fine of $750 per offence.
Etches wrote in the order that she’s tightening restrictions on gyms because of the rapid spread of coronavirus variants of concern and the increased risk of transmission when people are working out indoors and in close proximity.
Ottawa Public Health does not currently list any open outbreaks related to recreation sites or organized sports. In the past, however, 12 outbreaks in sports settings have led to 106 confirmed COVID-19 cases and six outbreaks in recreation-based workplaces are tied to 48 cases.
Among the other restrictions laid out in the new order are:
- Patron information must be kept on hand for a minimum of 30 days.
- One staff member on-site at all times to monitor for compliance with the order.
- Capacity limits that allow physical distancing of three metres between each person.
- Posted signage indicating hours, distancing and mask-wearing requirements and capacity limits. Masks are allowed to be removed during exercise but OPH encourages patrons to wear them while working out as well.