Vancouver Island Health Authority is lifting a ban on gyms, fitness studios and similar facilities in the region that was issued on April 2.

Gyms, fitness centres, yoga studios and similar personal training facilities were not ordered to close by the provincial health officer.

However individual health regions, including Island Health, chose to issue orders to shut down these facilities due to evidence of COVID-19 transmission at some of these fitness centres.

The ban on reopening gyms in the Island Health region was supposed to remain in effect until the end of May but was lifted early.

“The order, issued April 2, is being rescinded in accordance with Phase 2 of B.C.’s Restart Plan. These facilities will be permitted to re-open provided they can meet provincial requirements to protect staff and clients against the spread of COVID-19,” reads the statement from Island Health.

All businesses that fall under this category will be required to meet a set of health and safety guidelines that were issued on Friday before they can reopen.

These requirements include:

  • At least one staff member needs to be present on the premises to ensure physical distancing by gym users.
  • Limit occupancy to allow physical distancing and sufficient time for staff to clean equipment and surfaces.
  • Post signage telling patrons they should not enter the facility if they have exhibited symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Screen all arriving patrons by asking them questions about their current health conditions.
  • Manage entry points to make sure people maintain their distance if queuing up to enter.
  • Require staff to self monitor for symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Use contactless forms of payment and check-in whenever possible.
  • Provide hand sanitizer or hand washing stations for all patrons to use. Also provide them with disinfectant wipes or disinfectant in a spray bottle and paper towels for disinfecting equipment and surfaces.
  • Increase space between cardio machines wherever possible.
  • Do not offer group classes unless patrons are able to stay 2 metres apart at all times during the class.
  • Close basketball courts/other group sport areas, saunas, and steam rooms within the fitness facility.
  • Limit locker room use and avoid use altogether if possible.
  • Do not offer food and close customer self-serve drink stations, water dispensers and water fountains.

“I know there’ve been many smaller gyms that have adapted by doing combinations of virtual and outside classes and small in-person groups. That’s something everybody’s going to have to look at,” said Dr. Henry during a media briefing earlier this week.

A full list of the guidelines can be found on the Island Health website.