Lethbridge gym to open June 1 against official health protocols

Lethbridge gym to open June 1 without health protocols
A gym owner in Lethbridge says he plans to open on June 1 regardless of the reopening schedule. As Emily Olsen reports, he says he doesn’t believe the protocols put in place at gyms in other provinces are effective.

UPDATE: Lethbridge gym owner backtracks, won’t reopen June 1 against official health protocols

A Lethbridge businessman says he’s opening back up, even if the province says he can’t.

“We already have cleaning protocols in place. We clean the mats daily, we disinfect everything after it’s used,” said Lee Mein.

Mein said he plans to fully reopen the Canadian Martial Arts Centre in Lethbridge on June 1, ahead of the provincial green light and without following official health guidelines like those seen in B.C. gyms.

READ MORE: Reopening B.C.: Health orders lifted, allowing gyms to reopen

“All these measures are ridiculous in my opinion because there’s no proof that this changes anything,” added Mein.

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He says his decision is not due to financial strain, but rather for the sake of his clients who he feels need the option for their mental health.

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“It’s for the students,” Mein said. “This is their outlet. People who train jujitsu and kickboxing, they get an outlet they don’t get from other things. They need this in their life.”

READ MORE: Some smaller Alberta gyms want to open earlier in COVID-19 relaunch

A video he posted to Facebook explaining his stance got equal measures of support from clients and concerned comments, some shaming him for not following public health protocols.

“We have people concerned about kids getting sick or grandparents getting sick,” said Mein. He added, “People get sick all the time. If kids are sick, they don’t come to class.”

Lethbridge Police said in a statement to Global News as for any potential enforcement of Alberta Health Services orders, all businesses need to follow the rules. The statement reads, “We follow the Government of Alberta guidelines regarding business openings and we appreciate the public’s voluntary compliance with these rules. We do not want to ticket people but if there is a flagrant violation of the rules we will take action and gym operators and other businesses need to understand this.”

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READ MORE: Lethbridge gyms consider what reopening could look like

Alberta Health Services wouldn’t elaborate on the potential dollar figure of a fine, but Mein said if a financial penalty is the cost of reopening, so be it.

“Okay, fine me.” He added, “Everyone I know is alive, and the people at the hospital aren’t busy, so I don’t see a problem. I say let’s open.”

Alberta Health officials have said gyms would be set to open in Stage 3 of Alberta’s relaunch. No specific date has been set for that.