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B.C. fitness fans face uncertainty as sector looks towards COVID-19 restart

Click to play video: 'Gyms and fitness studios prepare to re-open' Gyms and fitness studios prepare to re-open
Gyms and fitness studios prepare to re-open – May 14, 2020

Mary Lee isn’t sure when she’ll see the inside of her favourite Yoga studio again.

The Vancouverite has been taking classes via video in her backyard since her studio closed amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but says it just isn’t the same.

“Part of the reason I go to the gym is also for the social aspect of it. I get to see my friends, I like the instructors, so yeah, I do miss it.”

READ MORE: B.C. urged to ‘stay local’ over long weekend as coronavirus recoveries near 80%

B.C.’s provincial government didn’t include fitness clubs in its four-phase plan to reopen the economy, but said last week they may not be suitable for the second phase.

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City of Vancouver release survey results about attitudes on reopening businesses – May 14, 2020

However, gyms and other fitness facilities were not formally closed by provincial order. Fraser Health, Island Health and Interior Health issued their own closure orders, while Vancouver Coastal Health and Northern Health did not.

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READ MORE: Coronavirus: Interior Health orders immediate closure of fitness centres, similar facilities

Many facilities closed voluntarily.

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Earlier this week, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said medical health officers (MHO) in each health region will have to decide if and when to lift their own orders.

“These are all facilities that we have seen transmission of this virus in some parts of this province,” said Henry.

“People who own gyms and fitness centres [where there are no local orders] can start their process — and they should be doing that already to meet the requirements — and those who can, can look at starting to open starting after the coming long weekend.”

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Businesses like Vancouver’s Oxygen Yoga and Fitness are already hard at work developing plans to open safely.

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Visitors to B.C. provincial parks asked to physically distance, day use only – May 14, 2020

CEO Jen Hamilton says classes will see Plexiglas barriers set up between yoga mats, which will also be placed two metres apart.

Individually-packed yoga kits, masks and industrial-strength disinfectant will also be a part of the equation, she said.

“There is so much unknown that we’re still waiting to get that direction and that definitive date, but we have the plan in place in order to open and be compliant to all the needs on social distancing and what have you,” she said.

But many indoor facilities may not be large enough to meet physical distancing requirements, while others may not find reducing capacity to safe levels to be economically viable.

They’ll also have to grapple with questionable consumer confidence from a population that is being reminded daily to limit potential exposure to the virus.

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“The question is, if I go to a gym, even though I’m OK, am I going to bring that back to my home?” asked Lee.

“If I go to a gym is it too risky?”

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