New restrictions to help stem the spread of COVID-19 and the Omicron variant in British Columbia include the closure of gyms and fitness facilities until at least January 18, 2022.
Sarah Hudson, chair of the Fitness Industry Council of Canada, said Tuesday’s announcement came as a surprise to them.
“We’ve worked really closely with the provincial government over the past 21 months to keep the majority of BC’s fitness open, and we’ve delivered this safely to British Columbians,” she said.
Hudson added that the new year is usually the biggest time in the industry to welcome back to the gym, so this is a “huge blow” for the industry and for British Columbians.
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On Tuesday, county health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said officials know gyms, fitness centers and dance studios “were unfortunately places where transmission events occurred and spread to people in the community.”
“So we need to go to the very important remote support for people on some of these,” she said.
Hodson said they have not seen any data on an increase in cases related to gyms or fitness facilities and that they know how important exercise is to mental health and social connection.
“Exercise is medicine. This is about our mental health. This is about our social relationship,” she said. “I hear from doctors, nurses, police officers, and firefighters that going to the gym is an outlet for them to be mentally prepared for their next shift.”
Hudson added that she hopes this will be short-lived and said companies are in dire need of financial support from the government.
But she wants to make sure that British Columbians keep on hopping during the holidays in whatever way they can.
“This is not the time to sit down or sit still,” she said. “We need to keep moving no matter what.”
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Hudson added that she believes fitness facilities could have put in place more measures in order to keep businesses open, rather than closing them entirely over the new year.
“But we’ll go ahead and create ways our members can stay active,” she said. “This is the most important thing.”
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