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City of Kelowna considers next steps against unlicensed anti-mask gym

Flow Academy has allegedly been operating with controversial COVID-19 policies and without a business licence. Jeff Martin / Global News

The City of Kelowna says it’s still planning more enforcement action against an unlicensed gym that advertised anti-mask and anti-vaccination policies amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Flow Academy previously stated on its website that face coverings are banned in the martial arts school and that new memberships would be denied to people who have been vaccinated.

Read more: COVID-19: Unlicensed Kelowna gym under investigation for anti-mask, anti-vaccine policies

“To put it simply, the unknown health effects of the mRNA vaccines as well as reported side effects such as viral shedding, seizures, and death following the administration of these vaccines, are not covered by our liability,” it wrote in a post that has since been taken down.

In an email, Lance Kayfish, the City of Kelowna’s risk manager, said city staff have been in direct contact with the gym owner.

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“An injunction is being considered along with other enforcement tools and additional fines,” he said.

Read more: Coronavirus: Kelowna, B.C., church handed second violation ticket for defying mass gathering order

Former B.C. solicitor general Kash Heed said he was surprised the city hadn’t already asked for an injunction.

He believes the business should have been shut down based on the simple fact that it didn’t have a business licence.

“I have dealt with this in my career where we have a business that does not have a business license that continues to operate, where in fact, we’ve gone forward and asked for an injunction in the civil court process,” he said.

Read more: ‘This incident isn’t isolated’: Kelowna restaurant owner speaks out about COVID-19 confrontations

“And if he or she disobeys that injunction, we asked for an enforcement order and come in and lock the place up.”

“I’m very, very surprised that Kelowna does not do this because that person is flaunting a public health order that’s affecting all of the people in British Columbia, all over the world right now,” he said.

Flow Academy was flagged for operating without a business licence sometime during the winter, Kayfish said.

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When it did apply for a business licence, it was denied because the city didn’t believe it was complying with public health orders, he added.

Click to play video: 'Unlicensed Kelowna gym under investigation for anti-mask, anti-vaccine policies' Unlicensed Kelowna gym under investigation for anti-mask, anti-vaccine policies
Unlicensed Kelowna gym under investigation for anti-mask, anti-vaccine policies – Apr 14, 2021

The city said it first issued a ticket for operating without a business licence on March 10 and followed up with a second ticket around March 18.

While Interior Health slapped the business with a ticket and an order in late February, it doesn’t appear to have taken any similar enforcement action since.

In an email, a spokesperson said the health authority expected to potentially have an update on Wednesday.

Read more: COVID-19: Booking mix-up tells Penticton residents to get vaccinated in Kelowna

Interior Health previously noted that there is no public health basis for a policy excluding people who are immunized against COVID-19, and that adult group activities are not currently allowed under public health orders.

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After a public backlash surfaced over the business’s COVID practices, the company’s website was later password-protected and has since been updated to a simple statement.

“We have been overwhelmed with such positive inquires and are currently working on a new application process. Thank you for your patience and we will have applications open very soon,” it reads.

Flow Academy did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

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