Ontario may tighten guidelines for gyms after major outbreak
Zeena Dotiwalla cleans dumbbells at Yogaspace in Toronto on Wednesday, March 11, 2020. (Tijana Martin/The Canadian Press)
TORONTO -- The Ontario government says it is reviewing COVID-19 guidelines and restrictions surrounding gyms and cycling studios across the province after a major outbreak.
Ontario’s associate chief medical officer of health announced the plans during a news conference on Wednesday following a major outbreak at a cycling studio in Hamilton, to which 69 positive cases of the disease have been linked.
“When it first came to my attention … I made recommendations that the public health measures team reconsider the guidelines for spin cycle places and other kinds of gyms,” Dr. Barbara Yaffe told reporters.
“Because… even though they follow guidelines there was obviously significant transmission so I think we do need to review the guidelines, and that's in process.”
The province recently closed down gyms and fitness centres in three hotspot regions, with the most COVID-19 cases, including Ottawa, Toronto and Peel Region.
The new restrictions came into effect on Saturday and are expected to remain active for at least 28 days.
The outbreak at the SPINCO located on James Street in Hamilton was declared by the public health unit on Oct. 5. The city’s public health unit is now reporting 46 confirmed primary COVID-19 cases associated with the cycling studio.
A spokeswoman for the public health unit said there are also 23 confirmed secondary cases for a total of 69 cases linked to the outbreak. The secondary cases are related to exposure to SPINCO members who have tested positive with COVID-19.
Jacqueline Durlov, a spokesperson for the City of Hamilton, said that about 100 members were notified of a potential exposure to the novel coronavirus. They have all been told to self-isolate, monitor for symptoms and get tested if necessary.
She said the spin studio would be considered a place where there would be “high risk for transmission” of COVID-19.
“We continue to work with SPINCO to determine the cause,” she said. “Given gyms are higher risk sites for transmission because of the aerobic activity, enclosed spaces and other features, we may not know exactly how the virus was spread.”
Ontario health officials reported another 721 cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, marking a slight decline from the number of infections logged a day earlier.
-- With files from the Canadian Press and CTV News Toronto’s Katherine DeClerq