Two Ottawa gym owners say they're ready to reopen under Ontario's Stage 3 framework unveiled on Monday, but emphasize that questions still remain when it comes to measures intended to protect customers and staff amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
"One lesson I've learned during COVID-19 was that when there are government announcements, I should take it with a grain of salt, because there's always subtext and there's always things to consider and legislation and rules," said Jenna Ladd, owner of Iron North Studio, in an interview with All in a Day host Alan Neal on Monday.
"While we're excited that we're included in the generic release of which businesses can reopen, we still are awaiting detail on the can and can't dos."
Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced on Monday that most of the province — including Ottawa — will be allowed to enter Stage 3 on Friday, July 17.
Included in the province's Stage 3 reopening plan are new indoor gathering limits of 50 people. Masks are still mandatory at indoor, public settings in Ottawa and health officials continue to encourage two-metre physical distancing as well as frequent hand washing.
Questions about mask use
Now that Stage 3 is happening, Ladd said she's looking for more details around the appropriate use of personal protective equipment (PPE) — including face masks — in gyms as well as additional clarity about physical distancing rules and the flow of foot traffic.
"We're uncertain about what the legal or public health suggestions are for indoor physical distancing for fitness and what the implications are," she said.
LISTEN | Indoor dining, movie theatres, playgrounds and fitness centres return on Friday
Ashley Mathieu, who spoke with All in a Day along with Ladd, echoed that guidelines surrounding face masks aren't clear.
"In the handout [provided by the province], it's not [necessary] that you have to wear it," she said. "So I'm trying to see if there's a loophole in there, or if you have to wear a mask inside."
Mathieu said customers who visit her gyms will be asked to wear a mask, sanitize their hands and clean all of their equipment.
"So when the individual is done with that piece of equipment, we have to clean it right away, which means more manpower for us to make sure that the members are doing that," Mathieu said.
Gyms considering fee hikes
Beyond concerns about reopening safely, Ladd said she's hoping for additional details when it comes to rent relief measures.
"Fortunately, our landlord has applied for the rent reduction program," she said.
For her part, Mathieu acknowledged that she's had discussions about raising the cost of new memberships by a few dollars as a way of addressing additional costs accrued due to the pandemic.
Ladd added that her business has discussed similar fee increases but said current members will retain existing rates.
WATCH | Here's what Ottawa gyms may look like when they reopen on Friday: