A much anticipated (and demanded by a growing number of British Columbians) relaxation of the COVID rules on the use of Gym facilities across the province was delivered on Tuesday, with British Columbia's Public Health Officer Doctor Bonnie Henry announcing a return to the Gym, with some conditions to take place on Thursday, January 20th.
The Tuesday information session providing some background on how the Public Health Officer had decided to reverse the Public Health Orders that had brought much frustration for gym facility operators over the last few months.
As the Gyms reopen, Doctor Henry provided an apology for the confusion of the last 24 hours related to the Public Health Orders and then outlined some notes on how
"After looking at the data that we have and presenting that as we did on Friday. Today I'm taking the cautious step of reopening gyms and exercise facilities with capacity limits and the continued use of the BC Vaccine card ... new guidelines have been developed and we've been working very closely with the Fitness Industry Council of Canada ... these will be in effect with the restart of gyms starting on January 20th. And that will include individual and group fitness being able to resume at fitness centres and gyms across the province"
Doctor Henry also paid tribute to the operators of the facilities, noting of the challenges that the orders had presented.
"I think this is a really important measure, I really want to thank, particularly the owners and operators and staff who have worked in gyms across the province and who recognized that this was another change and very challenging situation with the spread of Omicron.
And they did what we asked to protect their workers and their gym community and I' very grateful that they've taken this measures. I know and please know, it was a very difficult decision to close gyms and fitness facilities before the holiday. But it did give us that time to make the assessment, particularly looking at people who were using these settings and making sure we had additional measures in place to address what we were seeing"
More on the restrictions can be reviewed here.
Some gyms in Prince Rupert have already taken note of the reopening and announced the resumption of their programs through their social media platforms.
While the Gyms reopen, the measures in place for bars, nightclubs, restaurants and events of Social Gatherings remain in place
"Given the current rates of transmission and what we saw from the presentations that I gave on Friday for example and the number of people currently requiring care in hospital; which is at the highest level for COVID cases that we have had.
I will be extending the current restrictions on events and gatherings though to February 16. At which point we will reassess the need once again, to keep any or all of these measures in place"
As well, the PHO observed that the need for COVID Safety plans remain in place, as do the exitsting provisions for use of the BC Vaccine Card.
The introduction of a new public health order related to the vaccination status of school staff across the province was also a topic of note for the presentation. With Doctor Henry outlining the province's thinking on the order for the requirement to determine the vaccination status of School District personnel.
"This was put in place to support the MHO's who were working with their School Districts across the province to make those important decisions around the need for vaccine mandates.
The first step in this and this is part of the advice that we've been providing to School Districts, is understanding the vaccination status of school staff and we know that several school districts had challenges in obtaining this important information ...
This is to make it very clear, this decision, this order, also assists MHO's in knowing which schools are most at risk of outbreaks and it's a way of us being able to prioritize and manage and support schools.
This order takes that pressure away and makes it very clear that there is a legal basis for this requirement and a standard process for the MHO's when they're work with their School District's to address these issues"
Doctor Henry also addressed some of the mis-information that she observed is making its way through social media when it comes to the province's vaccination program, pointing British Columbias to resources such as their family physician or the BC CDC website, where information is available to answer many questions for the public.
"Credible scientific sources for information are vital to making those important decisions for yourself and your family about your health. So I strongly encourage people to not pay attention to many of the things that are spreading on social media and Facebook and some of these posts. You need to find accurate, credible sources of information"
The full information session with Doctor Henry and Minster Adrian Dix can be reviewed below:
You can follow the path of the response to the coronavirus from our tracker page here.