Over the last several weeks, provincial governments have been implementing their vaccine passport policies impacting the fitness industry and other businesses deemed ‘non-essential’. The Fitness Industry Council of Canada (FIC) and the provincial coalitions continue to work hard to bring specific fitness industry concerns to the attention of policy makers, including financial support options and providing the safest possible environment for staff and members. Following is a provincial breakdown and commentary on the current vaccine passport regulations affecting fitness facilities across Canada:
By Carl Ulmer, FIC, Managing Partner & Director of Operations Club 16 Trevor Linden Fitness and She’s Fit!
Members and Guests must be partially vaccinated (one dose) as of September 13, when entering non-essential business such as gyms.
Members and Guests must be fully vaccinated (2 weeks post second dose) as of October 24, when entering non-essential businesses such as gyms.
The FIC BC Coalition worked with the government so fitness facilities would be able to take a Vaccine Status and log it in a “one and done” deal – once you have your member’s information, you can store the vaccine status and not have to ask again – making the process seamless, which helps us retain members.
Members need to continue masking when moving throughout the facility and may unmask when they are set up at their machine.
“The FIC is standing up for the fitness industry and has the best possible outcome in mind when we enter any dialogue with the government with the primary goal of keeping members, staff and all British Columbians healthy and safe. No one wants more restrictions on our businesses. FIC and its provincial chapters have worked closely with the government to implement their protocols in our facilities. We know how challenging it is to run a business right now – we also know what we have been able to accomplish as a united front.”
Other links to see the hard work of FIC in BC:
By Scott Wildeman, Area Developer, Franchisee and Head Coach at KidStrong, President, Prescription to Get Active, Fitness Instructor GYMVMT
As of September 20th, the Restrictions Exemption Program (REP) launched. Businesses have the choice to take part in this initiative or not. Fitness facilities taking part in the REP program, require members to provide proof of full vaccination. Once verified, facilities can avoid the restrictions listed below and in essence operate as normal.
Facilities who are not implementing the REP need to continue following the restrictions mandated by public health:
- Cancelling all group fitness classes.
- Solo workouts are permitted at 3 metre social distancing.
- Facilities are permitted to offer private training with the client and trainer 3 metres apart
- There is confusion about restrictions for youth under 18 years old as the province would allow group fitness classes but with 2 metre distancing. Facilities that cater to both youth and adults must navigate two sets or rules (e.g., dance or martial arts)
Staff and contractors are not required to be vaccinated as part of the REP in order to carry out their jobs. However, they would be subject to the same requirements to participate in their facilities as a participant.
There has been positive and negative feedback from members on the REP. Some facilities are experiencing displeasure and anger for their choice to either participate or not in the program. Some operators have reported members coming off freeze as they feel more comfortable attending facilities.
By Jolene de Vries, O2i – Own To Inspire, Anytime Fitness Esterhazy, Yorkton and Melville
As of October 1st, a vaccination or negative test policy will come into effect for all indoor public spaces.
The provincial government is encouraging employers to implement a proof of vaccination or negative test policy for employees in the workplace.
More details will be posted prior to October 1st.
“There is definitely concern for the industry going forward and if this will further hurt membership and financial stability of facilities.”
By Stephanie Jeffrey, BMGMT, Executive Director Manitoba Fitness Council
As of September 3rd, members and guests in fitness facilities need to provide proof of full vaccination to enter a facility.
Gyms, fitness centres and yoga studios must not open unless the operator restricts admission of members of the public to the following:
(a) persons who produce proof that they are fully immunized.
(b) persons who produce proof from the Government of Manitoba that there is a medical reason for the person not to receive a vaccine for COVID-19.
(c) persons under 12 years of age
The Gyms in Manitoba are currently open with no capacity restrictions for those who are vaccinated. Mask use is required to and from workout stations within the gym, but the mask can be removed when people are participating in physical activity. It must be put back on to move throughout the facility.
By Perry Tucciarone, Director, National Accounts & Business Development at Antaris/Merchant Treasury Software Services and FIC Ontario Coalition Leadership Team member
As of September 22nd, to enter fitness facilities patrons must show photo ID along with proof of full vaccination (your printed or digital vaccine receipt, demonstrating you are fully vaccinated and the final dose was taken at least 14 days ago).
October 22nd is the Province of Ontario’s target date to develop and implement an enhanced digital vaccine certificate with unique QR (Quick Response) code and accompanying verification application that will allow users to securely and safely verify their vaccination status when scanned.
Fitness clubs in Ontario will remain in Step 3 in the province’s re-opening plan with a 50% capacity limit, 2 metre physical distancing, and mask use while moving through the facility, however the mask can be removed when people are participating in physical activity.
Our position at the FIC is that our members always follow the guidelines and health regulations implemented by our health authorities. We are dedicated to keeping the safest possible environment for anyone entering any of our member fitness facilities and there has never been a safer time than now to return to the gym.
However, fitness clubs are already operating at only 50% capacity and will require additional resources to implement the vaccine certification protocol. Facility owners are concerned about losing an additional 10 to 20% of their members from those who choose not to get vaccinated.
The fitness industry needs the Ontario government to step up with additional support now to help small business owners survive by increasing capacity, and providing financial subsidies to prevent more small businesses closures.
By Gabriel Hardy, B.Sc., Kinesiology, Provincial Leader CCIP/FIC, Tonic Crossfit/Gym Le Chalet/Hardgym
As of September 1st, members and guests must be fully vaccinated to enter a fitness facility or other non-essential business. Businesses are using an app, called VaxiCode for individuals to upload their vaccine information. Employees use a system called VaxiCode Verif, which can scan members QR code from their account, providing a green light for those who are fully vaccinated, and red light for those who are not.
There was a 15-day grace period, so these rules didn’t strictly go in place until September 15th.
It is not mandatory for gym staff members to be double vaccinated to continue working, although, they would be subject to the same requirements to participate/work out in their facilities as would any other member.
Other COVID protocols are still in place including masking and social distancing. Members need to continue masking when moving throughout the facility and may unmask when they are set up at their machine.
Currently there are no government funded subsidy programs in place to assist facility owners. Since the vaccine passports came into effect, many fitness facilities have experienced a loss in revenue due to the limitation for member access. This is something that the FIC Quebec Coalition and the FIC/CCICP are working together with the government for a program to assist gym owners.
“Our main priority hasn’t changed, we want to provide our members with a safe, secure and accessible facility. Since the vaccine passports were put in place, we are even more confident in the safety of our staff and members.”
Starting October 4th, Nova Scotians will need proof of full vaccination to participate in discretionary, recreational, and non-essential activities including exercise in fitness facilities.
Employers are being encouraged to put their own vaccine or testing policies in place, however unless stated otherwise from their employer, employees are not required to be fully vaccinated to carry out their jobs. They cannot, however, participate in these non-essential activities as a participant unless vaccinated.
Nova Scotia’s Proof of Full Vaccination Policy is still being finalized, therefore Information may change. Final details will be available before the policy takes effect.
Phase 5 of NS’s reopening plan is set to start on October 4th, with health restrictions lifted, including no masking or social distancing requirements and no restrictions for gatherings or social contact.