Businesses are bearing the brunt of pandemic restrictions, says frustrated gym owner

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An Ottawa gym owner asks why his business is being forced to close again as it does everything possible to keep customers and employees safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.On Friday, the Ford government and Ontario’s chief medical officer of health announced they were reintroducing restrictions on restaurants, gyms, movie theaters and casinos in parts of the province. The new rules will take effect in Ottawa, Toronto and the Region of Peel at midnight.

But Ashley Mathieu, who owns two Anytime Fitness locations in Ottawa, believes the flashback is an overreaction.

“They have to show hard evidence here because as a local business owner it is extremely frustrating to continue to lock our doors,” Mathieu said.

She said there had been no cases of COVID-19 at either of the two gyms. Nonetheless, it is forced to shut down once more and may have to consider laying off staff if the shutdown continues.

“It affects us more than just in the sense of training. It’s a livelihood that it affects, and I don’t think the Ford government really cares about it, ”she said.

Friday, an employee cleans the gym equipment at Anytime Fitness in Orléans. (Jean Delisle / CBC)

Mathieu’s gyms had a number of safety measures in place, including restricting access to limbs only, installing plexiglass around cardio equipment, ensuring people wear masks when are not at a workout station and the availability of hand sanitizer throughout the building.

Mathieu said members must type their cards when entering, so they can be easily traced if a case of COVID-19 occurs.

Ashley Mathieu, who owns two Anytime Fitness locations, is frustrated that her business is closed as part of the current closure. 0:57

She also wonders why gymnasiums and other businesses are being forced to bear the brunt of the closure, while schools remain open.

“Don’t close businesses out of fear willy-nilly. I think it’s all based on a fear factor, and something that’s really easy to go back to, that is, let’s go back to [Stage 2] and I hope it flattens the curve. But unfortunately you can’t do that. ”

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