According to the British Columbia Ministry of Health, fitness activities generate these aerosols and can result in rapid transmission
British Columbia fitness facilities plan to reopen Jan. 18 at the end of a provincial mandate.
In late December, BC provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry introduced new restrictions, including the closure of gyms and other fitness centers, as the province saw a spike in cases of Omicron.
This Tuesday is a much-anticipated time for gym goers and fitness facility owners who are hoping the term won’t be extended, despite hints from Henry that some terms included in that same announcement could very well be the same. to be.
When the closure of the “indoor event” was announced, a petition demanding more data transparency gained traction across the province.
The petition, started by Samantha Agtarap, co-owner of Engineering Bodies Strength & Strengthening in Port Moody, pleads for the BC government to share data on transmission locations.
In the petition, Agtarap writes that there is a disconnect in the implementation of decisions, noting that religious gatherings continue to remain open while chains and independent gyms are forced to close.
“Gyms have made significant changes to their operations to keep their patrons safe, and the vast majority have had no cases of transmission or significant outbreaks in the past two years,” the petition reads.
As of January 16, the petition has garnered 49,303 signatures.
Over the winter holidays, people have taken to social media to vent their frustrations over gym closures, often questioning the logic behind malls remaining open while gyms are closed.
Rapid airborne transmission
The main reason for the closure of gyms and other fitness facilities is the rapid transmission rate of the Omicron variant, compared to its cousins like Delta.
And while experts continue to figure out if Omicron is fully airborne, the fact is that this variant moves quickly and easily from individual to individual.
Glacier Media has contacted the British Columbia Ministry of Health to clarify why gyms are considered to be at a higher risk of Omicron transmission than shopping malls.
“COVID-19, including the Omicron variant, is spread through respiratory droplets that an infected person produces when they breathe, cough or speak. Fitness activities generate these aerosols and can result in rapid transmission,” the BC Ministry of Health said in a statement. statement to Glacier Media. “The order applies regardless of the ventilation system a gym or fitness center has in place.”
Adequate ventilation is crucial to bring in fresh air and prevent transmission of Omicron. As a result, outdoor exercise is always highly recommended over any indoor event. Indeed, the virus can persist in the air that people breathe indoors and where ventilation is not optimal, according to Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer.
Despite the mandate to close gyms across the province, some fitness facilities have chosen to defy COVID restrictions.
Kelowna’s Iron Energy fitness center lost its operating license and was fined $2,300 for defying the closure order.
“We’re open and the members are still training. We know we’re doing something right, and that’s why we’re so strong. The only way to close this gym is to drag me in handcuffs. . All members are going to record it and Canadians are going to see it. I want it,” co-owner Brian Mark told Castanet.
Other fitness facilities like kickboxing gym 30 Minute Hit said on Facebook that they were opening their locations in Langley, Cloverdale and White Rock at 50% capacity. The gymnasium said it was doing so with permission from the Fraser Health Authority as they fall under Sports, which says sporting activities that ‘normally take place in a sporting environment can continue’.
In a statement to Glacier Media, the ministry said “indoor events include a gathering of attendees for the purpose of performing exercises or adult fitness classes.”
Operators of 30 Minute Hit in Langley declined to comment.