Coalition of fitness centres threatens to reopen regardless of Quebec’s red zone restrictions

A coalition of Quebec gyms, yoga studios and other recreational activity centres are threatening to reopen at the end of the week, even if the province extends the 28-day partial lockdown.

Such facilities have been closed since Oct. 8, as part of a series of measures imposed by the government to contain the spread of COVID-19.

Premier François Legault has scheduled a news conference for 5 p.m. today, where he is expected to extend many of the measures imposed earlier this month in red zones.

Owners of fitness facilities say they have spent thousands of dollars to ensure their locations are safe and that their clients depend on exercise to keep physically and mentally healthy.

In a statement issued Monday, the group — which says it numbers more than 200 — says they will reopen Oct. 29 regardless of what the government decides.

“All the sanitary measures in force will be respected,” the statement said.  

“If the government by then can prove to us, through studies, that we are the source of the outbreak, we will reverse it.”

Question of mental and physical health, owners say

Dan Marino and Christian Ménard, two of the men representing the coalition, both have shared social media posts publicly that provide misleading information about COVID-19.

For example, Marino has shared posts on his Facebook page that question the effectiveness of masks and minimize the dangers of the novel coronavirus. Ménard has asked people to sign a petition against Quebec’s mandatory mask law.

Speaking to reporters on Monday, Marino said It would be unacceptable for gyms to stay closed.

“I have heard from too many people who are in distress,” said Marino who owns Mega Fitness Gym in Quebec CIty. “It’s mental and physical health.”

Dany Laflamme, owner of Nova Gym, a martial arts centre in Quebec City, said customers are calling every day.

“It’s truly sad. My customers are my family,” he said.

Christian Ménard, who runs Pro Gym Montréal, said his clients are eager to get back to work on their bodies and minds. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada)

Gyms have been the site of outbreaks in Quebec and neighbouring Ontario.

But regardless of the risk, the coalition says customers want to get back to their favourite gym or studio.

Tanya de Montigny told CBC Montreal’s Daybreak that the gym closures have had a substantial impact on her clients’ mental health.

She owns the Idolem yoga studio in Brossard, and when she closed her doors yet again earlier this month, she said “I had people leaving my studio crying.”

“I had people actually telling me they didn’t know how they would end up being able to get through these 28 days without us,” she said.

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Johny Watshon

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