Edmonton-area fitness studio owners are left feeling frustrated after the province announced new restrictions in order to curb the spread of COVID-19.
The small business owners say they were caught off guard by the Thursday announcement that fitness classes would be cancelled when Premier Jason Kenney and Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province’s chief medical officer of health, have said in the past COVID-19 is mainly spread through social gatherings.
Bre Baker, owner of Hive Fit Co, had planned to open her new location on Saturday. She heard rumours that new restrictions might be coming down but she didn’t think she would have to delay the opening of her studio and completely shut down her business for two weeks.
“We were expecting some sort of restriction, but the government kept saying no businesses will close,” Baker said. “So we were like OK, they’re going to do something that like they did for the restaurants … we thought we would have something to be able to go off of.”
She said it would make more sense to have a full lockdown for a few weeks to get a handle on the COVID-19 cases.
“If it was sort of like we’re going to do a lockdown or we’re going to close everything except for essential (businesses) for these two weeks and it will be so worth it because all of the cases will go down, then I think everybody in this particular sector would be a lot more willing,” Baker said. ”
“But it does feel a little bit like why just us, if we want to make this huge impact especially because, even yesterday, when the premier was talking, he was saying these businesses have been doing such a great job, there hasn’t been transmission and all this stuff so it kind of feels a little bit like, OK, well, why is it just us especially when the big gyms are allowed to stay open?”
Kara Bell, co-owner of Raise The Bar in Sherwood Park echoed that sentiment.
“To say we were caught off guard is a huge understatement, we’re extremely disappointed considering that transmissions are not happening in small boutique style studios like ours,” Bell said. “The big gyms, the big facilities are still able to remain open so we’re not really understanding where this came from or the rationale.”
Bell said it’s frustrating the province is focusing on keeping the economy open, but the new measures are impacting small businesses.
“Our biggest fear is that we shut down for two weeks and the numbers don’t change,” she said. “And then what? We’re closed for another three months? Businesses can’t stay afloat.”
Zita Dube-Lockhart is the co-owner of Action Potential Fitness, which specializes in decreasing barriers of access physical fitness. She’s concerned how these restrictions may impact