City cracking down on gyms flouting public health rules
The city's head of emergency services, Anthony Di Monte, says the city is already seeing more compliance from gyms after Ottawa Public Health introduced new rules this week.
OTTAWA -- City officials say they’re already seeing results after introducing new rules for fitness centres open for people with disabilities to exercise.
The new order, which came into effect Tuesday, lays out new requirements for Ottawa gym owners and patrons to operate legally during the province’s stay-at-home order, and gives city officials new tools to charge people breaking the rules.
Under Ontario’s emergency order, gyms are not allowed to open to the general public. But they can operate for people with disabilities to use for physical therapy.
However, some gyms weren’t operating safely, emergency services general manager Anthony Di Monte said Wednesday.
"Some of the owners of these businesses weren't complying and were creating an environment where there was a public health risk,” Di Monte told reporters.
That prompted the new Section 22 order, which gives public health and bylaw officer new enforcement tools to ensure businesses are complying with public health measures.
Under the order, customers must have written proof from a medical professional that proves they need to use the gym for physical therapy, and are unable to engage in the therapy elsewhere.
Fitness centre owners must record every patron’s name and contact information and keep it for 30 days, as well as screen every customer and keep at least one staff member present at all times to make sure people all stay at least three metres apart.
Owners must also post signs with the maximum number of people inside, hours of operation, and mask requirements.
Di Monte said city officials told gym owners on Tuesday about the Section 22 order and explained what it means. Now, bylaw officers will start enforcing it.
“We suspect and hope they will comply, otherwise we will charge,” he said. There have been no charges yet, but the city has seen “some movement towards compliance and some adjustment,” Di Monte said.
“We want to give them that day to absorb the information and ask any questions they may have, but we won't tolerate anything that won't respect the Section 22 order."