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Fraser Health shuts down fitness clubs over COVID-19 as mask fines announced

Anyone who refuses to wear a mask in a B.C. fitness facility can now be slapped with a fine. 
COVID worker mask

More businesses have been temporarily closed by Fraser Health after numerous COVID-19 cases were identified.

Fraser Health has updated its workplace list to include Planet Fitness in Abbotsford and Good Life Fitness in Surrey, as well as the downstairs floor of Colwin Electrical Group in Port Moody. The list also includes Canada Cartage in Port Coquitlam.

Fraser Health says Dance Collective (#202, 4199 Lougheed Hwy.) and West Coast Property Management (Unit 208 833 East Lake Dr.) in Burnaby were issued closure notices on May 14 and 12, 2021, respectively. 

Robertson Electric in Burnaby was also shuttered on May 6, 2021. 

Anyone who refuses to wear a mask in a B.C. fitness facility can now be slapped with a fine. 

Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth announced today (May 18) that police and other officials can now issue a $230 violation ticket to anyone who refuses to wear a mask at fitness facilities, including during workouts.

Police can also be called to assist with anyone who is abusive or threatening in response to being asked to wear a face covering. Face shields are not accepted as a substitute for a mask since there is an opening below the mouth, notes a press release.

On May 7, guidance from the provincial health officer's indoor individual exercise document stated masks are required in fitness studios but fines were not included at that time. 

Farnworth says fitness facilities include gyms, fitness studios and dance studios. 

On April 8, B.C. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry implemented a new public health order that expedites temporary closures when three or more employees have tested positive for COVID-19 and transmission has been confirmed at the workplace. 

It empowers WorkSafeBC to issue the closure order for 10 days or longer and work with businesses to review and enhance their COVID-19 safety plans. In larger workplaces like construction sites, the closure may only affect one area or team.

Public health will assess whether essential workplaces like fire halls, grocery stores and pharmacies should remain open, but they will be supported in other ways, she told a news conference.

The strategy aims to avoid sector-wide closures, which Henry said are "really a blunt tool" for combating infections.

"In these ways, we can keep people working safely and augment the measures already in place," she said. 

It's also directed that workplace closures be posted publicly on health authority websites. 

- with files from The Canadian Press and Jess Fedigan