(Black Press Media files)

Interior Health gives go-ahead for gyms to reopen on May 19

Gym owners will have to first create a written COVID-19 mitigation plan

Gyms have been given the green light to reopen next week, Interior Health has announced.

The health authority ordered all indoor gyms and fitness facilities to close in early April due to concerns of transmitting COVID-19.

Health officials said in a statement on Friday (May 15) that the closure order will be lifted effective May 19, in line with the provincial government’s multi-phase plan to reopen B.C.’s economy.

Fraser Health and Island Health released nearly identical guidelines, as well. Vancouver Coastal Health and Northern Health never placed orders for gyms to close.

There are requirements that must be addressed before gym owners can welcome back fitness enthusiasts, including developing a written COVID-19 mitigation plan.

On Friday, the health authority released guidelines curated by WorkSafeBC, which include caps on occupancy, signage, screening arriving clients and cleaning protocols.

Here is a look at the guidelines:

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:

  • Ensure there’s sufficient space to allow patrons to remain two metres from one another
  • Prevent large gatherings
  • 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 and to reduce crowding (e.g. at check-in counter).

3. Post signs

Place signs at all business entrances to notify patrons that they must not enter if they have symptoms of COVID-19. Signs should be posted throughout the facility to make patrons aware of the two metre physical distancing requirements, enhanced sanitation procedures (including reminders for members to wipe equipment with disinfectant after each use), and any other instructions and limitations, as applicable.

Links to example signs can be found here.

4. Screen arriving patrons

Patrons should be asked the following questions when they arrive:

  • Do you have any of the following symptoms: fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat and painful swallowing, stuffy or runny nose, loss of sense of smell, headache, muscle aches, fatigue or loss of appetite.

Any patron who answers ‘yes’ to the questions above, should not be permitted to enter the facility. It is recommended that anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 call 8-1-1 for guidance.

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 must not work and need to self-isolate and contact their care provider.

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 COVID-19. To do this, either:

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.

Use the list on the EPA’s website to identify if a disinfectant has been reviewed and confirmed to be effective.

Contact the disinfectant supplier or manufacturer to identify if the disinfectant has been confirmed to be effective and, follow the manufacturer instructions for disinfection including contact times.

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). When the solution is applied do not wipe it off, instead, allow it to air dry.

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 with disinfectant wipes before and after use. Discontinue use of re-usable towels and cloths.

11. Where possible, increase the space between cardio machines to achieve a minimum of two metre distancing between users

Note: If it is 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

Encourage patrons 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. Site plan must include enhanced cleaning and disinfection for locker rooms and bathroom facilities.

16. Do not offer food service.

17. Close drinking fountains. Water bottle filling stations are acceptable if appropriately sanitized.

18. Consider developing online fitness participation, if practical, until such time that physical distancing recommendations are suspended


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

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