Metro Vancouver spin studio owner slams provincial health officer for “dangerous” label

The founder of a Metro Vancouver indoor cycling business has slammed provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry for labelling his enterprise “dangerous,” while not issuing an order that it close.

Dominik Desbois, founder of Spin Society (with studios in Downtown Vancouver, Mount Pleasant and North Vancouver), said Henry’s comments on Thursday were “both reckless and damaging to small businesses such as ours.”

Henry said that although she hasn’t ordered spin classes to close, she considers them to be “dangerous.”

Henry, who has never attended an indoor spin class but has observed them, said that people on stationary bikes breathe heavily and perspire, while loud music blares over instructions being shouted.

“We shouldn’t be doing that. Let’s find other ways of keeping our gyms open, of having exercise that people need for their health and well-being,” she said.

The provincial health officer reported a one-day record of 425 new cases of COVID-19 in B.C on Thursday.

Desbois said his business and his customers were now uncertain what to do, adding that since July 1 there have been 30,500 check-ins across the three studios and no cases of COVID-19.

“If we are meant to close our doors, then please, by all means, place the order and we shall oblige as we always have,” he said. “However, without ordering forced closures, we are left scrambling to pick up the pieces while trying to pay our bills.

“Without forced closures, we don’t qualify for the maximum support provided by the CERS (Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy) program, for example, but we likely bring in too much revenue for any significant support coming from the CEWS (Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy) program. We are in a lose, lose situation.”

There are several large and popular indoor-cycling businesses based in Metro Vancouver — including Spin Society, Method Indoor Cycling, Pulse Cycling Studio and the Ride Cycle Club.

Desbois said his business had gone to great lengths to ensure both staff and members feel safe.

Henry ordered all gyms and spin businesses to close April 15, less than a month after the COVID-19 public health emergency was declared in the province. That order was lifted five weeks later, subject to businesses abiding by a list of rules and regulations aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19 in those facilities.

While Henry will not reintroduce orders banning gyms and spin businesses, she said she had heard about spin classes in Ontario where 60 people had become infected. She said that in B.C. there had been cases where up to 30 people who had attended a spin class got sick.

Henry said there were no COVID-19-related deaths reported between noon Wednesday and noon Thursday, and there were 3,389 active cases of the disease — of which 97 were being treated in hospital, including 24 in intensive care.

She said Thursday’s reported cases were based on 11,020 tests — making a test-positive rate of 3.8 per cent, which is an increase over recent weeks. Fraser Health continues to account for the bulk of cases at over 60 per cent.

There are 30 active outbreaks in health-care settings, including two new ones at Tabor Home (its second outbreak) in Abbotsford, and the Pinegrove Nursing Home in Richmond.

Henry said the outbreak at Ecole de l’Anse-au-sable in Kelowna was over. This was the first outbreak reported at a B.C. school, though there have been hundreds of COVID-19 exposures in schools provincewide.

There are no new community outbreaks, but there remains many active exposures and clusters around the province.

Henry said there were 7,519 people in self-isolation after being exposed to the disease.

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