Ottawa’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches has issued extensive requirements for Ottawa’s fitness centres that allow persons with disabilities to exercise as part of their physical therapy.
Under Ontario’s current emergency order, gyms and recreational sports facilities are not permitted to open. However, some gyms, including several Anytime Fitness locations in Ottawa, have opened specifically for members who have mental or physical disabilities and who can produce medical notes attesting to their need for physical therapy at the gyms.
Among Etches’s requirements, which took effect Tuesday morning, is an order for gym patrons to show medical notes calling for physical therapy. The patrons must also attest that they cannot get the therapy elsewhere. Staff must also record contact information for their patrons and retain the information for at least 30 days.
The maximum number of people in the gym is to be either the capacity limit set by the province or the maximum number of people that can maintain three-metre distances from each other, whichever is less, Etches ordered.
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The requirements from Etches amount to “everything that we have been doing already,” said Jeff Christison, who owns some of the Anytime Fitness locations that have remained open in April.
Earlier this month, some of Christison’s locations were charged with operating contrary to the provincial pandemic order while they were serving members who have disabilities and who produced medical notes. Christison has said he will contest those charges laid by Ottawa bylaw officers, and added Tuesday that Etches’s requirements provide clarity for bylaw officers from now on.
“The clear message is that they’re not targeting facilities that are abiding by the rules,” said Christison.
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