BARRIE, ON – Ontario is expected to enter Stage 2 of its plan to reopen on July 2.
Non-essential retailers can increase capacity up to 25%, personal care services can open, and large indoor religious services or ceremonies can resume.
But as part of the province’s Stage 2 plan to reopen, indoor fitness centers cannot accommodate customers again, frustrating both business owners and fitness enthusiasts alike.
Fitness centers must delay reopening until Ontario proceeds to Step 3.
Barrie resident Katie Schmidt said her mental and physical well-being had been affected by the gyms being closed for months.
“The gym is my outlet,” says Schmidt. “This is where I channel all of this stress, anxiety and depression.”
GoodLife staff and members have asked the province to allow the fitness facilities to open in Stage 2 rather than waiting for Stage 3.
“It affects tens of thousands of people who work in our industry and millions of people who train at various clubs across the province,” said Jane Riddell of GoodLife. “It’s a reasonable request.”
GoodLife wants to open to 25% of its capacity with mask requirements, physical distancing and cleaning protocols in place.
The fitness center credits a successful rollout of the vaccination and a drop in COVID-19 cases is among the reasons for the change.
After submitting several application proposals, the company is optimistic that its application will be accepted.
Local health authorities are proceeding with caution.
“I’m asking them to hang in there and see how the province is doing in the second stage,” said Dr. Colin Lee of the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit.
MPP Doug Downey says he understands the frustration, but insists on relying on advice from medical health officials.
“I know we are so close to coming out of the pandemic,” Downey said. “There have to be discussions with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and public health units. “
On Tuesday, it was announced that Ontario will be able to enter stage 3 weeks ahead of schedule after meeting vaccination goals.
Under Stage 3, indoor activities such as dining, sports, casinos, events and gatherings would be permitted.
With files from Amanda Hicks