Not all businesses regain full capacity as restrictions lift
WATERLOO REGION – A lack of clarification on social distancing requirements means not all businesses in the Waterloo region are returning to full capacity.
The Ontario provincial government eased restrictions on indoor capacity levels on Monday, allowing companies checking vaccine evidence to return to normal capacity figures seen before the COVID-19 pandemic.
For most of these businesses, which include establishments such as restaurants, bars, gyms and casinos, this is the first time that they will be operating at normal capacity in more than a year.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford said on Friday the province plans to remove all restrictions related to the pandemic by March 2022.
“It’s always a good day whenever we can help more Ontarians regain their mental and physical health,” said Jason Sheridan, COO of GoodLife Fitness. The national chain operates gyms in Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge, and will return to full capacity in each of its regional facilities.
“Our members have requested increased capacity in our group fitness classes, team training camps and all of our clubs and we are grateful to be able to offer this starting today.”
Members of the gym can now use all lockers and showers in the establishment, all predefined training stations are removed, time slots are no longer necessary for booking, cycling bikes are again available in the Cycling studios and hot yoga will be back early next week.
This is a similar “full steam ahead” approach for Kitchener’s Gym 41.
“Very relieved to be able to operate at full capacity,” said co-owner Kristian Manning. “I just hope we don’t end up following the pattern of a return to lockdown after a month or two of relaxed restrictions.”
Manning said they were “cautiously optimistic” that these rules will stay in place.
But not all operators feel equally comfortable.
At Midtown Yoga Kitchener Waterloo, owner Rebecca Rose has chosen to implement a gradual transition to normal ability.
She said she would slowly add more spaces as more information became available.
It’s a decision, she said, that will give me, my team and my members time to feel more comfortable with more body in our space.
At F45 Training Kitchener Sportsworld, capacity will remain at 50%, or 18 people, until the government releases more clarity on its social distancing requirements inside the facility.
“At the end of the day, we’re really hesitant because nothing has been released regarding social distancing regulations,” said co-owner Brittany McLean. “Due to the size of our fitness studio, if we need two meters of social distancing, we don’t have the option of increasing the capacity limits. “
McLean said they were “extremely hesitant” to make any changes they might have to reverse.
“As a business, we’re in a difficult position because we have something that we’re passionate about, but we just don’t know all the rules around it. “
She said they will continue to operate at half capacity until it becomes clearer how they can safely reopen.
A similar approach is used at the two Grand River Rocks locations in Kitchener and Waterloo.
Owner Scotty Hamill said the decision to keep a capacity limit in place was largely about allowing members to continue to feel comfortable and safe while climbing.
However, both locations increased their limits on Monday, now allowing 150 climbers in Kitchener and 100 in Waterloo, or about 50% of the capacity for each space.
“It gives people enough space to move around and not feel like they’re crowded,” he said.
At times during the pandemic, the two climbing rooms were only allowed to have 10 people inside, a number just too small for one climbing hall to keep the lights on, Hamill said. .
“We’re in a much better situation now, and most of our members have been very understanding through it all,” he said.
In the meantime, climbers are still required to wear a mask when climbing and must reserve their time slots before arriving.
“I think we’re all back to normal, but for us it’s about making sure our members are happy,” Hamill said. “So the two big pieces will be about mask requirements and social distancing. Until the government addresses it, we will continue to use member feedback to dictate how we move forward.