Sask. businesses' reactions to new COVID-19 restrictions range from full support to questioning

·3 min read

Saskatchewan announced new restrictions for gyms and fitness studios on Friday and reactions from business owners varied widely.

Among the new restrictions are guidelines for gyms and fitness studios. Fitness classes are limited to eight people and they must be three metres apart.

As a result, the Wheelhouse Cycle Club in Regina will be shutting its doors for a few weeks at least, said co-founder Kyle Gibson.

"Unfortunately, with only eight people, it's not actually worth it for us to stay open," Gibson said. "Just the increased labour cost of our front desk staff and our motivators — it's not worth it for us."

Spin Society/Dominik Desbois
Spin Society/Dominik Desbois

Gibson said he knows the government is in a tough position with cases rising, but listed counter-arguments for the increased restrictions: there hasn't been transmission found at the spin studio, people are physically distanced, staff are doing increased cleaning and exercise can positively impact people's mental health.

"Things have been dark for people. Fitness has been that like one escape for them to get away," he said.

Gibson said the management team hasn't decided when they'll reopen.

Meanwhile, Bodhi Tree Yoga in Regina has been focusing on virtual classes.

"I was actually surprised at how lax the restrictions were," Colin Hall, co-owner of Bodhi Tree Yoga, said.

Health is way more important than money. - Colin Hall

Currently, the studio holds about 30 virtual classes and six in-person classes a week. The in-person classes have a maximum of six students, people are spaced out and masks are mandatory until people are in their own area.

Bodhi Tree Yoga/Facebook
Bodhi Tree Yoga/Facebook

Hall said he would be in favour of the province closing all gyms and fitness studios — even though it would mean he would have to shut his doors.

"Flip the circuit breaker before it gets bad. Why wait? It just doesn't make any sense to me to hang out and wait for things to get worse when the writing is on the wall," he said. "Health is way more important than money."

Hall said there should be more enforcement. He said people know masks are good and house parties are bad.

"It's just a question of compliance at this point and I think that's really where we're facing some issues."

'Everyone's wanting to do their part'

Saskatoon's Crew Rowhouse is going to need to make some changes, but the owner is supportive of the province's move.

"We're just going to try and make it work," owner Lorne Prefontaine said.

Prefontaine said he doesn't understand the eight-person class limit. He said his gym has capacity for 30 people but instead has limited it to 12 during the pandemic. He said at 12 they can afford to stay open and already keep people three metres apart.

"We are based on group fitness. That is our business model," he said. "We're just going to try and do the best that we can and get through this together."

Submitted by Sheena Beatty
Submitted by Sheena Beatty

Prefontaine said having a place to go for fitness is important to peoples' mental health. He said there are both motivational and social aspects.

"For a lot of people, this is their social experience that would get them out of the house," he said.

Submitted by Sheena Beatty
Submitted by Sheena Beatty

Prefontaine said his clients are grateful to come and workout, even with physical distancing and masks. He said the gym is fully prepared for a full-shutdown and moving to completely virtual classes, but that it would be difficult given the nature of his classes.

"Everyone's wanting to do their part to get us through this in a safe, possible way."