The Fitness Industry Council of Canada (FIC) Ontario Coalition said it is “extremely disappointed” in the provincial COVID-19 Roadmap to Reopen schedule announced last Thursday.
The organization also warned that if fitness facilities remain “closed for much longer the sector will be crippled by massive permanent closures and job losses.”
According to a release issued yesterday, the current schedule suggests “indoor fitness will not be permitted to reopen until August, a decision that is not only devastating to hundreds of Ontario fitness businesses and thousands of employees, but to the millions of Ontarians who are desperate to return to their gym for both physical and mental health reasons.”
FIC Ontario lead Nick Corneil said that “the decision to leave gyms and fitness facilities closed until the last stage of reopening just doesn’t make sense. During the last 14 months, when we were permitted to be open, we hosted more than 15 million safe workouts. We’ve proven our ability to operate safely and responsibly.
“Our industry is desperate to re-open and millions of Ontarians need to get back to their workout routines to support their overall health.”
On May 19, the Ontario chapter of the Fitness Industry Council of Canada joined other leaders in the “fitness industry to communicate the dire circumstances they are facing” through an online media event.
Since then, it said, the campaign website www.getmovingagain.ca and accompanying online petition has garnered over 13,000 signatures of support.
The coalition said it has “three clear asks” for the Ford government:
- Follow science, not speculationand let evidence-based data guide decisions. “Fitness clubs, operated under safe conditions, are safe. Similar to park playgrounds, there is no data that shows fitness clubs and gyms are a significant source of COVID-19 outbreaks. Just the opposite: when Ontario fitness facilities were allowed to operate, the industry hosted millions of safe workouts.”
- Give health and fitness experts a seat at the table when planning re-openings.“Fitness professionals have deep experience and expertise, and can help officials make informed, evidence-based decisions about safely reopening and operating fitness clubs. The industry wants to work with government to ensure Ontarians are protected and the industry can survive. To date the industry has not been consulted on any decisions government has made.”
- Base capacity restrictions on operating space and open fitness facilities sooner. “Allow gyms and studios to safely open based on a percentage of their space – just like other industries. Personal training can be done as safely or more than current allied health services. Gyms can operate with mandated masks and distancing, so there is no reason not to have them open in Step 1 at 15% like other non-essential retail.”
“We are eager to work with government to help make responsible decisions about reopening Ontario fitness facilities as quickly as possible,” said Corneil. “Frankly, some of our members simply won’t make it to August. Now is the time for gyms to support Ontarian’s physical and mental health.”