They say they contribute to the physical and psychological wellbeing of Quebecers and the second shutdown pushed many of them into bankruptcy.
Operators of about 200 sports centres including gyms, yoga centres, dance studios and martial arts clubs are asking Quebec Premier François Legault to lift the lockdown on their premises. The lockdown was ordered Oct. 8 because of the second wave of COVID-19.
Speaking to reporters Monday morning in Quebec City, gym operator Dan Marino, who was visited by local police last June after reopening his fitness centre in defiance of government orders, said he was ready to be fined should he reopen again.
“I’ve got (clients) who are in (psychological) distress right now. … We have people who need physical activity to keep them from falling back into a chasm of anxiousness, anxiety,” he said. “I’d rather get a ticket and challenge it with all of our group than find myself one morning saying I should have done something for someone who did harm to themselves.”
The coalition, called Centres d’activités physiques du Québec, is threatening to reopen on Thursday if the premier cannot prove they are linked to second-wave outbreaks of the virus.
The group argues their centres are not coronavirus hotspots and that they perceive the second lockdown ordered by Quebec as a slap in the face. They say they contribute to the physical and psychological wellbeing of Quebecers and that the second shutdown pushed many of them into bankruptcy.
They note also that they spent considerable sums to make their centres conform to health regulations.
The group says their centres will reopen Thursday across Quebec and continue to respect those rules. However, they add if the government can prove they are responsible for COVID-19 outbreaks they’ll back down.
“Acts of civil disobedience are not in the cards,” said association vice-president François Meunier. “The (government) decree prevents it. If people want to act this way they’ll do it in groups that are not organized. If we do something it will be in the form of demonstrations, not civil disobedience.”
Meunier said however there are 20,000 restaurants in Quebec and not all of them answer to the association.
On Oct. 8, Legault said the situation was critical and he was comfortable with shutting down restaurant dining rooms, bars and gyms while making face masks mandatory in high schools in red zones.
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