West Kelowna gym fined $2,300 as owners call on mayor to renew business license

Vancouver-

A West Kelowna gym that reopened this week in defiance of BC’s COVID-19 restrictions has been fined $2,300 and ordered to close again.

Home Health confirmed that the fine had been handed out to Iron Energy Gym on Thursday, along with a closure order pointing to violations of the county’s public health law.

Earlier this week, the city also withheld the extension of the gym’s 2022 business license. The owners responded by calling on West Kelowna Mayor Gord Milsom to reconsider “the city’s decision to close gyms and negatively impact the mental health of the city you run.”

“It seems like the entire town of West Kelowna is not interested in the mental and physical health of the people they are supposed to serve,” reads a post on Iron Energy Gym’s Facebook page. “I speak for all of West Kelowna.”

The company also posted a video of members — most of whom were shot without masks — explaining what exercise has done for their mental health.

A number of gym owners have chosen not to obey the orders of provincial health official Dr. Bonnie Henry that fitness facilities must stop providing personal services until January 18 at the earliest.

Two gyms in Kamloops, No Limits Fitness and Anytime Fitness, were also fined $2,300 on Thursday for non-compliance, according to Castanet News. Three other gyms in the city have also refused to close.

Some in the fitness industry have argued that their industry is being unfairly attacked and demanded evidence of COVID-19 transmission in those environments.

Speaking about the pushback on Tuesday, Henry said that intense indoor training, even when people wear masks, carries an increased risk of transmission — a particular concern with the highly contagious Omicron variant that now accounts for 80 percent of cases in BC.

Henry stressed that the shutdown order was not issued because gyms were not following recommendations or guidelines, but to protect customers and employees.

“The reputable people understand that — they won’t put their staff and customers at risk if we see the amount of transfer that we’re seeing now,” she said.

Featuring files from Kendra Mangione of CTV News Vancouver

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