Whib’s Gym in Enderby and Sicamous is recruiting volunteers among its members to take shifts monitoring for compliance with COVID-19 safety measures, a requirement for reopening under Interior Health’s new guidelines released May 15, 2020. (Google image)

COVID-19: North Okanagan gym needs volunteers in order to reopen

Gyms have been told they need staff members to monitor for compliance with COVID-19 safety measures

A fitness centre with locations in Enderby and Sicamous needs volunteers before it can reopen in accordance with COVID-19 safety measures.

Interior Health Authority ordered all gyms and fitness facilities to close in early April due to concerns of transmitting the novel coronavirus. That order was rescinded Friday, May 15, coupled with a list of guidelines for reopening fitness spaces in the region.

Among those guidelines is a requirement for a staff member to be present during hours of operation, a requirement that’s proven challenging for Whib’s Gym. Normally, Whib’s operates with little to no staff present, with members using a key fob to enter at their leisure.

“Unfortunately, Whib’s Gym does not have the resources to compensate full-time staff and would not be able to open due to this requirement,” said owner Mike Whibley in an email to members May 19.

Whibley said he had spoken to Interior Health, which said that bringing on volunteer staff is an acceptable means of filling the requirement.

The gym is hoping for enough volunteers to cover two-hour shifts during opening hours, which are currently from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. Depending on the number of volunteers Whibley can recruit from his membership list, those hours could be shortened.

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“We may need to reduce the hours and just give people enough time to come in, but we’re hoping to give as many hours as possible,” Whibley told the Morning Star Thursday.

Volunteer duties at the gym include encouraging social distancing and use of wash stations and disinfectant after gym equipment use, disinfecting high touch points regularly and reporting non-compliance to Whib’s Gym management.

Provincial pandemic protocols have been subject to sudden change. Whibley received word from Interior Health about reopening on Friday, May 15, and has been rushing to get things in order since then.

“I’ve just been scrambling since then to see how we can meet the requirements,” he said. “My landlords have been very generous in helping me out to keep my expenses lower, but yeah, we’re just hoping we can get started up again soon so we can stop the bleeding.”

Whib’s Gym doesn’t yet have a set schedule for reopening; that level of planning will come after volunteers have been recruited.

“Although we haven’t ironed out all the details yet, if there are enough volunteers to cover shifts, and after they’ve been trained and scheduled, we will modify the fob access accordingly and make the hours publicly available.”

Meanwhile a couple of Vernon gyms are planning for reopening on June 1.

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Brendan Shykora

Reporter, Vernon Morning Star

Email me at Brendan.Shykora@vernonmorningstar.com

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