Some gyms in Kamloops and elsewhere remain open in defiance of a public health order requiring they close due to the rising case counts of the Omicron variant of COVID-19.
Health Minister Adrian Dix was asked during a press conference on Dec. 31 whether those establishments will be shut down.
Dix replied that public health orders will be enforced. When that happens was not made clear.
“My recommendation to everyone is that they follow these orders, which were put in place seriously, thoughtfully and reluctantly, and do so until Jan, 18," Dix said.
The order is in effect from Dec. 23 to Jan. 18, at which time it will be reviewed.
Dix said government will be moving to enforce those public health orders.
“We don’t want to engage in enforcement actions because, quite frankly, we’re busy,” he said. “What we’d like people to do is follow the rules and we expect them to do so.”
Earlier this month, No Limits Fitness co-owners Darren Maywood and Justin Grover spoke on behalf of a group of gym owners whose businesses remain open — No Limits, Gold’s Gym, Anytime Fitness, Ladies Only Fitness and Strength Camp Kamloops.
They are calling on the province to deem fitness “essential,” adding they are also mulling a class-action lawsuit, noting legal counsel has been retained and the group has been contacted by facilities across the province.
Grover said gyms have followed every public health order since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 — closing for three months, cancelling classes, checking vaccine passports, adhering to mask requirements and following cleaning protocols.
Grover said they are concerned about the mental health of clientele without access to fitness facilities.
Last week, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie told KTW there is no option for gyms and fitness centres to remain open under the order to close.
“Gyms must close during this period,” she said.”There are things that we can do — and my gym does it very, very well — to connect people, to be able to support us having that physical activity remotely right now.”
Henry said Omicron is spreading rapidly in indoor environments, even when there is plenty of space and all protocols are being followed.
Businesses that defy public health orders can be fined or closed.
Violation tickets can be issued by police officers, community safety unit officers, liquor and cannabis inspectors, gaming investigators, conservation officers and WorkSafeBC investigators.
Fines of $2,300 can be issued and police can recommend charges against repeat offenders. If convicted, a business owner could face penalties of up to $10,000 and/or one year in prison. In addition, local governments may be asked to revoke business or liquor licences.