Most of British Columbia’s COVID-19 restrictions have been extended for four weeks, but one contentious restriction that has had many crying foul will be lifted later this week.
Dr. Bonnie Henry announced today that gyms and fitness centres will be allowed to reopen on Thursday with some minor limitations in place.
Each gym will need to operate with a capacity limit that provides a minimum of seven-metres squared for each person, which is a space of around 2.5 m by 2.5 m.
That spacing requirement applies to both people working out on their own and group fitness classes.
All gyms and fitness centres will need to use the BC Vaccine Card and the provincial health officer encouraged facilities to look at pre-bookings and adding time between classes if those things are operationally possible.
Masks must also be worn at all times except when exercising, as Henry said that can cause challenges, but she encouraged people to wear masks while exercising if it is possible.
Instructors, personal trainers and staff must wear masks at all times as well.
The PHO thanked owners, operators and staff from gyms across BC who she said recognized the very challenging situation that came with the quick arrival and spread of Omicron.
“They did what we asked to protect their workers and their gym community and I am very grateful that they’ve taken these measures,” Henry explained.
“Please know, it was a very difficult decision to close gyms and fitness facilities before the holidays, but it did give us time to make that assessment.”
While the restriction on gyms and fitness centres will be lifted on Thursday, the same can’t be said for most of the orders currently in place to combat the spread of the virus in BC.
Henry extended the current restrictions on events and gatherings until Feb. 16, at which point she will assess the need for them once again.
Those restrictions include nightclubs and bars being closed, sports tournaments prohibited, limitations in restaurants and capacity limits of 50% of theatres, stadiums and other venues.
In addition, the order requiring businesses to have COVID-19 safety plans in place and the BC Vaccine Card have both been extended.
“I know that many people felt that we were overreacting and I’ve said this from the very beginning of the pandemic that our challenge is to find that balance of making sure we’re doing just enough to address the situations we’re in and not allowing our system to be overwhelmed,” the PHO noted.
After issuing restrictions to combat the Omicron wave in BC on Dec. 17, health officials doubled down only four days later with more restrictions, including the closure of gyms, which took effect on Dec. 22.