Kelowna-West MLA is voicing his displeasure with the COVID-19 restrictions being placed on fitness centres in B.C.
Ben Stewart, sent a letter to Minister Adrian Dix, Dr. Bonnie Henry, intern Liberal leader Shirley Bond and Premier John Horgan, requesting that gym closures be reversed immediately. The letter was also posted to Facebook on Ben Stewart’s page. At the time of this interview, Stewart had not received a reply from anyone in response to his letter.
The MLA stated that the closure of gyms and fitness centers is an unfair decision that was made without consulting gym owners. Stewart said that he found the justification for the restrictions explained to him on a recent phone call with Dr. Henry to be unsatisfactory.
“I don’t support this arbitrary approach to trying to contain something that we’ve been working with for the past couple of years,” said Stewart.
Stewart stated that COVID-19 has been around for nearly three years and gym owners have been abiding by the provincial restrictions since the initial month-long shut down in 2020. He said, that with constructive discussion, the province and gym owners would be able to reach a reasonable and safe decision on restrictions that do not require gyms to completely shut down. He suggests reduced capacity, social distancing, sanitization, masks and vaccines as alternative preventative measures that could be enforced.
Unfortunately, gym owners do not have a formal, unified organization in place to negotiate with the government. Restaurants are represented by the B.C. Restaurant Food Services Association, a group of restaurant owners and employees that advocate on behalf of the food industry. The Food Services Association renegotiated several COVID restrictions with the province, striking a balance between health, safety and business.
Stewart is a business owner himself and understands the strain that the pandemic restrictions can take on a business. He is asking that gym closures be reversed immediately on behalf of gym owners and his constituents that have written hundreds of letters asking him to oppose the restrictions.
The City of West Kelowna has also been fielding questions from the public in regards to restrictions on gyms and renewing businesses license for those businesses who defy public health orders.
“A local gym is in defiance of a provincial Public Health Order, related to COVID-19 guidelines; and therefore, we continue to ask people to direct inquires or comments on this matter to Interior Health or the Province of B.C.,” said the City of West Kelowna in a release.