New COVID-19 restrictions have been put in place for B.C. to help stop the spread of the Omicron variant. The restrictions come into effect Wednesday at midnight.
The new measures include the closure of fitness centres again, leaving owners and gym users frustrated.
“It is incredibly disappointing,” said World Gym Penticton Owner, Tricia Roy.
“We thought that with following all the mandates up until this point, masking and everyone being double vaccinated while in here, that it was a safe environment to be in.”
Gym user Lucas Achtem said he is confused on why he can take his kids to movie theatre but cannot go to the gym.
“I don’t understand why businesses like this have to be punished. I think they are doing a lot more than other businesses that aren’t necessarily social distancing as much,” he said.
January is typically the busiest time of the year for fitness centres as many people chose to go to the gym as part of their new year’s resolutions.
“We gain a ton of organic members and to have this happen at such an integral time of the year for the gym is absolutely devastating,” said World Gym Penticton membership coordinator Savannah Swaisland.
For businesses forced to close, they are calling for financial help and to be included in the conversation.
“Absolutely I would like to have a little bit of a heads up so that we can prepare. It was such a blow to us and to have to relay that information to all of our staff members and instructors,” said Roy.
Mikayla Gardner, manager at Gym Eternal, added, “It really sucks, especially because we have trainers and staff that are now out of work before Christmas. So, we are missing out on the gym and a salary.”
The Kelowna Chamber of Commerce agrees that more support is necessary for businesses as they navigate the new restrictions.
“We would like to see something from the province. We hear that they are working on something to help those that are most impacted, not just the businesses but potential employees that are now going to be laid off or let go,” said Kelowna Chamber of Commerce executive director Dan Rogers.
“The support has to be there; it is positive that they said something is forthcoming, but we need that information quickly.”
Rogers added that the chamber is more than ready to assist in the distribution of rapid tests kits to businesses that are interested in using them.
“We have heard from our Chamber colleagues across the country that the rapid test kits they have distributed have been well received by many businesses and have helped in stopping the spread of the virus in the workplace,” Rogers said in a statement.
“These rapid test kits should be made available to small businesses at minimal cost no matter where they are located in the province.”
It has been a tough time for businesses owners, and considering the new restrictions, they are asking consumers to remember their local businesses.
“Especially in this town where small businesses are what keeps it going,” said Gardner.
The new restrictions are expected to stay in place until Jan. 18.