Toronto mayor asks city's public health unit for gym reopening plan

John Chidley-Hill
·2 min read

Toronto's public health unit is developing a plan to safety reopen the city's gyms when the province allows them to operate again, the mayor said Wednesday, noting that the facilities will be increasingly important in the winter months.

Mayor John Tory said he requested the plan as part of the city's general reopening strategy for Nov. 7, which will mark the end of a period of heightened restrictions as Toronto grapples with COVID-19.

Tory said gyms are a priority because good public health policy is about more than just preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus.

"It's about their state of other physical well being, it's about their mental health, it's about their financial state of health, this is all part of what causes people, overall, to be healthy in our city," said Tory.

"Part of that is the opportunity to go to a place where you can get exercise. Increasingly, as the weather gets colder, people will be looking to do that in settings that may be indoors."

Toronto, Ottawa and Peel Region were moved back to a modified Stage 2 of the province's reopening plan starting on Oct. 10 because of their increasing rates of COVID-19. York Region was also pushed back on Oct. 19.

The restrictions shut gyms and banned indoor dining at restaurants and bars, among other things. All four regions must remain under those restrictions for 28 days.

When asked reopening shuttered facilities on Nov. 7, Premier Doug Ford said that when it happens it will be a collaboration between provincial and regional health officers.

"No one wants to open up these restaurants, these fitness centres, and other places, more than I do," said Ford.

Ontario's associate medical officer of health said on Oct. 15 that all COVID-19 protocols at fitness centres were being reviewed after an outbreak of the virus involving more than 70 people was linked to a cycling studio in Hamilton.

Dr. Barbara Yaffe said that the SPINCO franchise followed all of the current safety rules but there was still an outbreak.

Christine Elliott, Ontario's minister of health, said on Wednesday that the province is going to remain cautious, especially in the four hot zones where gyms are currently closed.

"For the gyms that are located in modified Stage 2, we have been advised by public health doctors that that is a place where public transmission is happening," said Elliott, adding that gyms will remain closed in the four regions until their 28-day periods are up.

"We'll see where they are in those areas."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 28, 2020.

John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press