Peace region gym owners are now in possession of guidelines from Northern Health as it relates to re-opening.
Northern Health has recommended non-essential services such as gyms and fitness centres remain closed while the provincial state of emergency due to COVID-19 is in effect.
“We recognize, however, that some non-essential services wish to stay open. In these situations, local environmental health officers can provide information on best practices for ensuring physical distancing and on strategies to reduce the risk of the spread of COVID-19.”
One Mile Zero fitness freak said he was staying at home and working out alone – but waiting and watching how gyms open before he returns to working out inside. He declined to give his name as he is a long standing member at one local gym.
“The gym that cares about the safety of its members the most, will be the one getting my return business,” he says.
“So I can wait and see what owners are taking the regulations seriously.”
Northern Health says the guidelines have been created to provide owners of gyms or fitness centres with guidance on how to reduce the risk that COVID-19 could be spread at their establishments if they stay open
These guidelines only apply to gyms and fitness centres located in Northern Health’s region.
1. Control access
Gyms and fitness centres should only be open when at least one staff member is present. If patrons have uncontrolled access, then it may not be possible to ensure physical distancing rules are followed or that disinfection of equipment is being performed after each use.
- 24-hour unrestricted access without staff present on site should be suspended (if a gym or fitness centre offers this service).
2. Limit occupancy
The number of patrons allowed into the facility at any one time should be limited to:
a) Ensure there’s sufficient space to allow patrons to remain two metres from oneanother
b) Prevent large gatherings
c) Allow staff sufficient time to clean and disinfect equipment and other surfaces frequently
Consider using a booking system that allows a limited number of patrons to book and attend a specified time slot. Ensure there is sufficient time between time slots to allow for cleaning and disinfection of the facility and equipment.
3. Post signs
Place signs at any entrance to notify patrons that they should not enter if they have the symptoms of COVID-19. Signs should be posted throughout the facility to make patrons aware of the physical distancing requirements, enhanced sanitation procedures (including reminders for members to wipe equipment after each use), and any other instructions and limitations, as applicable.
Some links to example signs to use:
- Do Not Visit if Unwell Poster
- Physical Distancing Poster
- Hand Hygiene Poster
4. Screen arriving patrons
Patrons can be asked the following questions when they arrive:
- Do you have any of the following symptoms: coughing, sneezing, fever, sore throat or difficulty breathing?
- Are you, or anyone you’re living with, either sick, self-isolating, or quarantined?
Any patron who answers yes to either of the questions above should not be permitted to enter. Anyone who has the symptoms of COVID-19 is recommended to call Northern Health’s COVID-19 Online Clinic and Information Line: 1-844-645-7811.
5. Manage customer entry points
- Place markers such as tape or cones every two metres at entrances to provide patrons with visible queues that encourage physical distancing.
6. Require staff to self-monitor for symptoms of COVID-19
- Staff who have symptoms of the illness (a fever, cough or difficulty breathing) must not work.
7. Whenever possible, use contactless forms of payment and check-in
8. Provide hand sanitizer stations or handwashing stations for patrons and encourage their use
9. Use appropriate disinfectants
Gyms and fitness centres must verify that the disinfectant(s) they use are effective against SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19). To do this, either:
a) Use the list on Health Canada’s website to identify if a disinfectant has been reviewed and confirmed to be effective against SARS-CoV-2
b) Use the list on the EPA’s website to identify if a disinfectant has been reviewed and confirmed to be effective
c) Contact the disinfectant supplier or manufacturer to identify if the disinfectant has been confirmed to be effective
d) Make a 500 parts per million chlorine disinfectant solution using bleach and water. To make a solution of this concentration: mix 1 part bleach to 100 parts water (e.g. mix 10 ml bleach (5.25%) with 990 ml water)
10. Provide patrons with either disinfectant wipes or disinfectant in a spray bottle and paper towels for disinfecting equipment and surfaces
Disinfectants for patrons should be conveniently located. Patrons should be required to wipe down the equipment before and after use. Discontinue use of re-usable towels and cloths.
11. Where possible, increase the space between cardio machines to achieve adequate distancing between users
Note: If it’s not possible to space cardio machines far enough apart, other measures should be considered, such as only allowing patrons to use every other machine (i.e. not allowing two machines next to each other to be used at the same time).
12. Encourage physical distancing and discourage congregating
Patrons should be encouraged to conduct their workout and exit the facility without unnecessary delay.
13. Do not offer group classes unless patrons are able to remain two metres from one another at all times during a class
If group classes are offered, they should also be scheduled to allow staff adequate time to disinfect equipment and surfaces before each class.
14. Close the following facilities and equipment within a gym or fitness centre: basketball courts and other group sport areas, saunas, and steam rooms
15. Limit locker room use and avoid use if possible
Patrons should be encouraged to arrive at the gym or fitness centre in workout clothes and to avoid using locker rooms on site. When locker rooms are used, a disinfectant
spray or wipes should be available for patrons to disinfect locker contact surfaces before and after use.
16. Where applicable, do not offer food service, other than take out
17. Close customer self-serve drink stations, water dispensers and water fountains. Staff can fill drink orders for customers and but must not refill a used cup.
18. Consider developing online fitness participation, if practical, until such time that physical distancing recommendations are suspended
Anyone who has the symptoms of COVID-19 is recommended to call Northern Health’s COVID-19 Online Clinic and Information Line: 1-844-645-7811.