Long lines at Markham gymnasium raise fears Toronto members will bypass COVID-19 restrictions

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A member of a Markham gymnasium said the long lines at the facility raised suspicions that some people were heading there to bypass restrictions at nearby COVID-19 hotspots.Avo Pirjanian, who is owned by LA Fitness, says he is concerned that people on the roster are from Toronto, where the daily number of COVID-19 cases is significantly higher than in York Region and where, Last week, the provincial government ordered gyms, among other destinations, to close for at least 28 days.

Pirjanian said he was able to enter the LA Fitness premises at 8555 Woodbine Ave last week. before the new restrictions were imposed on Toronto.

“Usually you walk in as soon as it’s open. In the last few days, since Toronto closed on Saturday, there have been queues around the corner, ”Pirjanian said.

“Having people from other places that are at high risk of COVID obviously and coming to a place like a gym, where you sweat and where you are easily at risk of being transferred from one person to another is a risk to my family. “

Avo Pirjanian, who is owned by LA Fitness in Markham, says he is concerned that people are coming from Toronto, where the daily number of COVID-19 cases is significantly higher. York Region gyms have not been ordered to close. (Chris Glover)

CBC News obtained video of the long lines filmed early one morning outside the Markham LA fitness center.

Pirjanian said it was frustrating and concerning for members who regularly use the location. He added that his family members were considered to be at high risk of becoming seriously ill if they were infected with COVID-19, and that he had been careful and followed public health guidelines.

CBC Toronto asked LA Fitness headquarters for comment on Tuesday, but so far it has not responded.

A director of the Markham facility who declined to be named, however, said there was no protocol in place to prevent members from Toronto from coming to the facility to train.

Members able to circumvent a “very easy loophole”

When the province tightened restrictions, LA Fitness members saw their membership frozen. But to unlock their memberships, they simply have their tags scanned at a club that’s accessible to them, the manager told CBC Toronto.

“It’s a very easy loophole for these members to work around,” the manager said.

WATCH | CBC Toronto reports concerns about the use of gyms by people in COVID-19 hotspots:

Just days after gymnasiums in Toronto and Peel Region were closed due to the surge in COVID-19 infections, parts of the GTA have grown in concern that people are traveling outside of areas with restrictions on where fitness centers are still open. CBC Toronto’s Chris Glover reports. 2:28

Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti, when asked about the issue, said it was a matter of corporate responsibility.

“If, in fact, this is true and is happening, I find it absolutely ridiculous that a company that promotes health and good lifestyles is actually going against that same philosophy by welcoming people. other regions, ”Scarpitti said.

Other franchise gyms in Markham, including GoodLife Fitness, do not allow Toronto members to use the facilities.

Ryan Salvador, studio manager at Markham’s Orangetheory Fitness, says, “We catch these people ahead of time. The bottom line is that we do our part to flatten the curve and keep everyone safe. (Chris Glover / CBC)

Ryan Salvador, studio director at Orangetheory Fitness in Markham, said the gym prevents people from out of town from booking.

“We catch these people in advance,” Salvador said. “The bottom line is that we do our part to flatten the curve and keep everyone safe.

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