CALGARY – It’s only been a day since the province announced that health restrictions would be partially lifted on February 8, but the news has already caused an uproar in an Alberta community.
After months of lobbying for a full relaunch, many gyms say they aren’t happy with the phased reopening plan announced on Friday.
They are allowed to only do one-on-one, appointment-only workouts, but that leaves the majority of gym users behind the dumbbells in the gym.
According to some owners, the lack of a specific plan for a full restart could lead to a revolt.
“After yesterday, you will see large numbers of gyms defying the provincial government and reopening,” Moe Hamdon, owner of Anytime Fitness, told CTV News. “I was very disappointed with the news.”
Hamdon is one of many.
A fitness operator estimates that as of Thursday, up to 200 centers will be ready to oppose health orders in the coming weeks.
“I almost have a feeling there will be more now,” said Hamdon. “Yesterday some people were upset. We are a huge part of the solution and we are tired of being treated as part of the problem. “
While Hamdon says Anytime Fitness is unlikely to break the rules, he understands why some of his coworkers are considering it.
Rule violations in other industries have seen fines that some consider to be too low.
An Edmonton gym owner said the fines imposed on guests this week showed that “the risk is worth the reward.”
At Lagree YYC, owner Kimberly Rothenberg says the financial aspect of the shutdown has been devastating for her studio.
“Despite all the subsidies that are helpful and wonderful and for which we are grateful, there is still more money going out than in,” said Rothenberg. “Personally, my husband and I believe in obeying the law … but I definitely understand where (defiance) comes from.”
The gradual reopening plan, which begins in nine days, depends largely on hospital admissions.
The announcement of Step 1 of the four-step plan was triggered on Thursday when hospital admissions fell below 600.
As of Friday, 594 people in the province were hospitalized for COVID-19, 110 of them in intensive care.
Critical care doctor Darren Markland says the falling numbers can be misleading.
“We are already stressed,” said Markland. “The hospital is full. It is currently less crowded than it was, but, to quote hockey, we worked 110 percent. “
“This is not the time to open things until we get an overview of these new viruses.”
Some fitness centers say they have their eye on February 8th – bars and restaurants may reopen on the same day – the day they’ll open their doors too.