toronto gyms

Gyms can open in Toronto this weekend but the new rules are super strict

Toronto residents have been patiently waiting a month for indoor dining, movie theatres, gyms and other businesses that were shuttered once again back in October to reopen.

Originally, there was the potential for the city to progress past its modified Stage 2 lockdown on Nov. 7, as Ottawa and York Regions got to, but it was later announced that Toronto would have to wait at least an additional week due to the city's COVID-19 case numbers.

And now, on Tuesday, Mayor John Tory and Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa broke the news that the city would not be loosening restrictions so much after all, despite being well past the inital 28 day period of re-implemented measures.

As of Nov. 14, Toronto will be officialy moving into a revised version of the Red-Control phase of Ontario's new colour-coded reopening framework rather than Orange-Restrict, meaning that precautions will be more stringent than anticipated.

For gyms, this means that instead of the 50-person capacity that Orange would have enabled, facilities will only be permitted 10 people inside at any given time (or 25 outside) for general workouts, while indoor group classes are completely banned for the time being.

As per provincial guidelines, all gymgoers will have to be screened for COVID-19 prior to their session, while long-standing masking and physical distancing rules will, of course, stay in place.

Team sports games and practices are also not permitted, though training for sports can continue with absolutely no person-to-person contact allowed.

Residents and businesses in Toronto will also be subject to other severe new measures, including having all social gatherings — still capped at 10 people — limited to only members of one household (and/or their essential supports).

According to Toronto Public Health, people in the city are also supposed to stop visiting the homes of friends and family "unless for emergency reasons" or classes, and limit in-person activities outside the home to essentials only, such as grocery shopping and medical appointments.

"Cancel or hold virtually all in-person activities that are discretionary," a list of enhanced measures under Red-Control from Toronto Public Health reads.

The hospitality industry is also suffering the blow of a complete moratorium on indoor service at bars and restauraunts — a far cry from the 50 person indoor capacity businesses were expecting as of Saturday, and the 10 person capacity authorized by the province in the Red phase, which de Villa is overriding using her powers under Section 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act.

Casinos, meeting/event spaces, theatres and performing arts centres will also unfortunately remain shuttered.

It will be after another 28 days from Nov. 14 that these measures for the city will be re-evaluated, with de Villa warning residents today that they should "assume [the virus] is everywhere" now that the number of daily new infections has been over 1,000 for five days in a row now.

"In my professional opinion, the greatest harm would be to allow COVID-19 to continue to spread at this rate. It's logical to assume that it will only get worse," she said.

De Villa's counterpart in Peel, Dr. Lawrence Loh, made similar recommendations to keep his region in a stricter form of lockdown, which led to Peel likewise staying in Red-Control rather than proceeding to Orange like Ottawa and York last weekend.

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez

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