Closed by coronavirus, Gatineau gym inviting members to work out in Ottawa
Public health officials on both sides of Ottawa River advise against travel between regions
As gyms in some regions of Quebec remain closed for at least another two weeks, one fitness franchise is inviting its members in Gatineau to cross the river to Ottawa to get their workouts in.
"It's all about the mental health," said Ramy El Ahmar, general manager of both Anytime Fitness locations in Gatineau. "All the clients have been asking us, 'What's going on with our gym?' Now we can give them this opportunity to cross the border and get their workout done."
Gatineau is currently considered a red zone in Quebec, the most acute level on the province's pandemic alert scale, and will remain so until at least Nov. 23. Gyms in Quebec's red zones are among the venues that must remain closed until then.
Gyms in Ottawa were allowed to reopen Saturday after Ontario loosened pandemic restrictions on indoor activities in most regions.
El Ahmar said clients are entitled to use any of the franchise's locations, including the 12 in Ottawa. He said members who choose not to cross into Ontario to work out won't be billed until gyms reopen in Quebec.
Crossing borders not recommended
In response to the gym's invitation to its Gatineau members, the region's public health agency, the Centre intégré santé et de services sociaux de l'Outaouais (CISSSO), told Radio-Canada by email that travel between provinces, and even between different zones within the province, isn't recommended except for essential trips.
In an email to CBC, Ottawa Public Health echoed that advice, saying the entire National Capital Region must work together to limit the spread of COVID-19, and that means limiting non-essential travel.
El Ahmar said he's disappointed the Quebec government hasn't worked more closely with gym operators to coordinate an earlier reopening.
"We've been in contact with the government. We told them that we are ready to work with them and do the extra work if we have to, to open our gyms. But we're still waiting for that response," he said.