Fitness gyms were forced again to shut its doors again due to a provincial health order to close all studios and fitness centres as of Dec. 23. (PQB News file photo)

COVID-19: Island gym users and owners unhappy with latest round of regulations

‘Not fair and it’s not right’

Justin Loberiza goes to the gym almost daily.

It’s his way of ending the day and eliminating stress after his work as an accountant.

When the news that a provincial health order mandated fitness facilities to close until Jan. 18, due to rising cases of the COVID-19 Omicron variant, Loberiza was disappointed.

Loberiza, who works out at Bodyworks Fitness in Parksville, said the closures are unecessary as he feels most gyms have applied all the stringent protocols required to keep everyone safe.

“There are ways to control numbers in the gym like a registration system,” he said. “How can you have 10 people indoors in other indoor facilities and not in the gyms? I’d argue there’s more unsanitized contact in groceries and malls.”

READ MORE: B.C. closes gyms and bars, bans indoor organized events over holidays as Omicron surges

Nanoose Bay resident Jeannie Dixon also expressed her disbelief that yoga and dance studios were ordered to close. She has written a letter to Parksville-Qualicum MLA Adam Walker to share her concerns.

“It is my view that they are punitive and without warrant, given the current scientific data concerning this variant, and in view of the vast, vast majority of British Columbians whom are considered fully vaccinated,” said Dixon in her letter.

Dixon, who practises yoga at Namaskar Yoga Studio, highlighted in her letter to Walker the difficulty owner Shelly D’Amico, has had to overcome to keep her small business from folding.

“This current round of regulations and closures marks the fourth time that she has had to close her doors, move to virtual class and bear the loss of income and the huge out-of-pocket expenses that come with these closures,” said Dixon. “Her studio is without a doubt the most spotless yoga studio or fitness facility that I have ever been in. She has scrupulous standards of cleanliness and sanitization, and has state of the art ventilation systems that would probably exceed those in any mall or restaurant.”

Having to shut down three times in the past was already “devastating” for D’Amico.

“In the last while I have been trying to rebuild, rebuild,” said D’Amico. “In the last four months I was beginning to see some fruits of my labour if you will. Since this announcement came out, I have had members quit. I have had people ask me for refunds and no one has purchased anything including my Christmas special to try and generate revenue. Everything is stopped.”

The order to shut down also came at an inopportune time said D’Amico, who invested all of her own money on the yoga studio.

“This is our busiest season,” said D’Amico. “January and February, is when we try to make the most money to get us through the summer because our businesses are seasonal. During the summer, everybody wants to be outside. We just keep getting slammed and slammed and slammed.

“If they were shutting down everything I have nothing to say. I get it. You have to do what you have to do for the greater good. But why are spas, pools, casinos, ferries, hotels, restaurants, Costco and many others allowed to remain open? They have less control of their environment, why are they allowed to be open and I have to take the hit? It doesn’t make sense.”

D’Amico said it simply is “not fair and it’s not right” particularly when they have been strictly compliant with health protocols including making sure that staff and members are fully vaccinated. She does not know what the future holds for her business.

Cascadia Martial Arts co-owner Dustin Fee also questioned why they seem to always get the short end of the stick when they have followed all guidelines.

“For nearly two years, businesses like ours have complied and followed government orders now it feels like we’re starting all over again,” said Fee.

michael.briones@pqbnews.com

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