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Vernon martial arts gym trying to navigate murky provincial health orders

Gym waits for rules clarity

The owner of a Vernon martial arts gym says he's just trying to understand public health orders as he awaits clarity from health inspectors.

Mario Deveault of NOS Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu says he's still operating as allowed under the latest pandemic restrictions from provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, which permit group fitness classes for youths.

Where his questions arise is in instances where families come in together to train – parents and children.

Deveault says such groups are already part of their own family bubble, so there is no risk of virus transmission, and he has continued to allow them to train, pending advice from health inspectors.

"I am allowed to train kids, but not adults ... but what about when it's kids and adults together in their own family?" he asked.

The latest provincial restrictions regarding physical activities and gyms, updated Dec. 9, state that high-intensity group fitness activities must be suspended to slow the spread of COVID-19.

These include adult group fitness activities such as aerobics, hot yoga, circuit training and spin classes.

Lower-intensity group fitness activities are also temporarily suspended.

The province says businesses that close due to COVID-19 restrictions could be eligible to receive rent support of up to 90 per cent.

But, the rules become a little more murky as they pertain to gyms. Recreation facilities that offer individual workouts and personal training sessions can remain open as long as they have a COVID-19 safety plan. 

Meanwhile, all adult indoor and outdoor team sports are suspended, including martial arts, but youth classes and team sports can continue with physical distancing. Games, tournaments and competitions are suspended, however.

Individual drills and modified training activities can continue, the provincial website states.

Deveault says he has been in communication with health inspectors and is awaiting clarity on the matter.

"It's definitely not a defiant action," he said in reference to the provincial guidance. "I'm just trying to keep my business alive while navigating some vague outlines until I can have that conversation with the health inspector and clear up the confusion."

Meanwhile, Deveault said the seeming inconsistency of being allowed to go to the mall, restaurants but not to church doesn't make sense to him.

"I have families come in with their kids, and what am I supposed to say? The kids can train, but you can't?

"I'm still waiting for an answer to that question."

He says his business "took a huge hit" during the first provincial lockdown that has continued during ever-tightening restrictions.

"They keep moving the goal posts," he said. "I'm doing my best to stay open and play by the rules."



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