The province’s new colour-coded system to classify each of Ontario’s public health units is causing more confusion than clarity for many, including a number of business owners like Jim Solomon of Hone Fitness who are struggling to keep up with the ever-changing COVID-19 restrictions.
“It was very confusing. I kept listening and wondering, ‘Can gyms open or not?’” said Solomon, referencing Tuesday’s news conference where Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen de Villa.
With Toronto being in the red zone, it means gyms can only have a maximum of 10 people inside. It’s a restriction that Solomon said won’t benefit fitness centres.
“Our locations are 15,000 to 18,000 (square) feet. To only allow 10 people at once… the math isn’t good. It’s not commercially viable for us.”
While the Ontario government set the universal guideline with its colour-coded system, local medical officers of health can impose additional restrictions.
Employees at other businesses reported losing some clients because people don’t know whether or not they’re open.
“A lot of students didn’t come back because they were like, ‘Are you open, are you not open?’ So it’s stressful for all the employees and it’s stressful for the students,” said Mark Read who works at a Toronto dance studio.
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) has voiced its concerns about the further, prolonged period of restrictions saying many industries could be in jeopardy. It predicted that 160,000 businesses across Canada will no longer be here once the pandemic ends. It made that prediction before the second wave closure of businesses.
“Businesses are already really, really weak, and many of them are just not going to survive the COVID pandemic because there aren’t proper government support programs in place,” said CFIB President Dan Kelly.
Meanwhile, Solomon said he would like to see gyms follow the same guidelines as places of worship which are currently allowed to operate at 30 per cent capacity.
“We’re better off as a gym business and industry letting us have the people come, but keeping the masks on (and) mandatory,” said Solomon.
Toronto’s red zone restrictions come into effect Saturday and will last for at least 28 days.