Ontario gymnasium uses loophole to stay open now closed due to COVID-19 outbreak – .

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Ontario gymnasium uses loophole to stay open now closed due to COVID-19 outbreak – .


TORONTO – An Ontario gymnasium operating on a physiotherapy exemption has been ordered to close after being linked to a COVID-19 outbreak that could force up to 400 people to self-isolate.

Halton Region Public Health said it is aware of 15 cases of the highly transmissible Delta variant of COVID-19 linked to Muscle HQ gymnasium in Oakville, Ont.

Gyms in Ontario currently cannot offer indoor services due to public health restrictions, but Muscle HQ operated by allowing members with doctor notes that cite the need for physiotherapy to train.

“It’s a great tragedy that there has been an epidemic,” said Ali Siddiqui, co-owner of Muscle HQ, in an emailed statement to The Canadian Press. “We are very proud to be able to provide people with disabilities with a facility that allows them to perform their prescribed treatment, while fully complying with regulations. “

Although gymnasiums are closed to the general public, Halton Public Health has said that facilities offering fitness sports and recreational activities for people with disabilities to receive physical therapy may be opened under the Accessibility Act. for people with disabilities in Ontario. However, they are only allowed to operate if the person has a medical certificate and their physiotherapy is not available elsewhere.

Halton Public Health said it officially declared the outbreak on June 28 after the number of cases rose to more than five. He then notified owners on Friday of a forced closure of their establishment for 14 days due to the number of gym-related cases.

Within 48 hours of the health unit reporting the outbreak, Siddiqui said “several cases” had been identified. The health unit said there are more than 400 high-risk contacts who must quarantine for 14 days from their last date of exposure, unless they are fully vaccinated.

He said all members who had been in the gym the previous week would be considered high-risk close contact.

The public health unit said it was concerned about close contact as they were inside with “limited masking and lack of supervision” to ensure people respected physical distance and capacity limits. .

Contact tracing at Muscle’s headquarters is ongoing and other cases outside of the initial exposure period from June 21 to July 3 are being detected.

“These gym members may also be at higher risk for complications from COVID-19 as each person would have been required to provide written instructions from a qualified regulated health care professional regarding their physical or mental disability to enable them to ‘use the gym,’ the unit said in a statement. “We urge these people to self-isolate and get tested for their own well-being as well as any other vulnerable people they may live with. “

Siddiqui said in a video message posted to Facebook that the first case tested positive on June 25. Two other members received positive results the next day, forcing owners to shut down the gym for 72 hours to allow for deep cleaning and fogging.

“We immediately contacted public health to inform them of the cases and provide them with contact tracing information,” Siddiqui said. “A mass email was also sent to all club members that day, informing them of the potential exposure and to get tested. “

Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott told reporters at a press conference Wednesday morning that since the gymnasium has remained open during the pandemic, the Delta variant is now “circulating very widely” among those who use installation.

She described the situation as a warning against reopening the province too quickly.

“We want to avoid a fourth wave. We don’t want to take a step back, ”said Elliott. “We want to make sure that we are completely ready and able to move forward based on the expert advice that 1/2 we get from our Chief Medical Officer of Health and all of the advisers on the various committees. “

Jim Barry, director of Oakville City Law Enforcement, said in an emailed statement that the city has received “a number of complaints” about Muscle HQ and has investigated several times. , the most recent being related to capacity limits on June 19.

“At that time and on previous visits, the gymnasium was in compliance with provincial regulations under the Ontario Reopening Act,” said Barry.

So far, Siddiqui said he has not received a municipal fine and is working with the health unit to determine a date to reopen.

“We are confident that with public health guidance, we can reopen again with even stricter policies in place to ensure our members receive the therapy they need, while also ensuring that our members and the community as a whole remain safe. “

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on July 7, 2021.

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