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Most Whistler locals believe gyms should not have been closed last month: Poll

Nearly 67% of local respondents say B.C.'s mandated closure of fitness facilities should not have been issued
dumbbells weight rack
B.C. gym-goers and owners are eagerly anticipating the potential reopening of fitness facilities across the province on Jan. 18, after Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry ordered them shut to help slow the transmission of COVID-19 last month.

UPDATE: Ahead of Tuesday's COVID-19 briefing, provincial officials announced that the closure order affecting gyms, fitness centres, bars and other facilities will remain in place indefinitely—but more information is expected at a press conference tomorrow. Check back with Pique for more...

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In response to surging numbers of COVID-19 cases late last month—thanks to the more-transmissible Omicron variant—B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry ordered bars, nightclubs, fitness centres, and dance studios to close as of Dec. 22. 

The full-blown shutdown order "completely blindsided" local gym operators, as some told Pique in December, while provincial relief grants intended to quell the financial blow of the new restrictions weren't enough to cover some facilities' monthly overhead costs. For a sector that had to weather a full closure once before in the pandemic, the announcement also couldn’t have come at a worse time, as gyms head into the new year, historically one of their busiest periods. 

Asked to clarify why gyms are considered at higher risk for Omicron transmission than other locations, the B.C. Ministry of Health explained that "COVID-19, including the Omicron variant, is spread by the respiratory droplets an infected person produces when they breathe, cough, or talk. 

"Fitness activities generate these aerosols and can lead to rapid transmission," said the B.C. Ministry of Health in a statement to Glacier Media. "The order applies regardless of any ventilation system that a gym or fitness centre has in place."

petition, created by Samantha Agtarap, co-owner of Engineering Bodies Strength & Strengthening in Port Moody, also asks the B.C. government to share data about places of transmission and to reconsider the decision. It has earned more than 49,400 signatures since it was launched one month ago. 

The provincial health order keeping B.C. gyms shut is scheduled to expire on Tuesday, Jan. 18. 

So Pique Newsmagazine polled 239 readers to ask the question: Do you think think B.C. gyms should reopen after Jan. 18?

The poll, posted on Friday, Jan. 14, drew 239 votes. Of those, we can determine that 54 are from within the community. The full results are as follows:

Yes:16.67 % local, 16.32 % total    
I don't think they should have been closed:  66.67 % local, 68.62 % total    
Yes, but I think other health restrictions should remain in place:7.41 % local, 6.28 % total    
No, I think they should stay closed until B.C. has transmission more under control:9.26 % local, 8.79 % total    
  Local   Total

Results are based on an online study of adult Pique Newsmagazine readers that are located in Whistler. The margin of error - which measures sample variability - is +/- 6.28%, 19 times out of 20.

Pique Newsmagazine uses a variety of techniques to capture data, detect and prevent fraudulent votes, detect and prevent robots, and filter out non-local and duplicate votes.

 

- With files from Brandon Barrett and Carol Eugene Park